Height, weight weight change, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk: The Netherlands Cohort Study

Cancer Causes Control. 1997 Jan;8(1):39-47. doi: 10.1023/a:1018479020716.


The association between several anthropometric indices and breast cancer risk was evaluated within the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer, which began in 1986 and is conducted among 62,573 women aged 55 to 69 years at baseline. After 4.3 years of follow-up, data on 626 women with incident breast cancer were available with complete information on height and weight at baseline. In multivariate case-cohort analyses, a significantly positive association between adult height and breast cancer was found (P trend < 0.001). Compared with women with height < or = 155 cm, the rate ratios of breast cancer for women with heights up to 160, 165, 170, 175, and > or = 175 cm were 1.22, 1.19, 1.44, 1.77, and 2.06, respectively. For weight at baseline, the significant positive association with breast cancer observed in age-adjusted analysis disappeared in multivariate analysis with adjustment for height and other confounders. For body mass index (BMI) (wt[kg]/ht[m]2) at baseline, no association was observed with breast cancer in multivariate analysis; compared with women with a BMI less than 23, the RR for women with a BMI of 30 or more was 0.98 with P trend = 0.46. Weight and BMI at age 20 showed weak inverse associations with breast cancer risk. For gain in weight or BMI between age 20 and cohort baseline age, inconsistent increases in risk were found, with no significant trends. These data support a positive association between height and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women. Further study is needed to evaluate the role of early diet and breast cancer in this population, and its relationship to height.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anthropometry*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Postmenopause
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain