UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Center for Health Policy and Research

Publication Date


Document Type



Neoplasms, Breast; Breast; Adiposity; Body Fat Distribution; Body Height; Women


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Neoplasms


INTRODUCTION: Breast density is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer, but determinants of breast density in young women remain largely unknown.

METHOD: Associations of height, adiposity and body fat distribution with percent dense breast volume (%DBV) and absolute dense breast volume (ADBV) were evaluated in a cross-sectional study of 174 healthy women, 25-29 years old. Adiposity and body fat distribution were measured by anthropometry and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), while %DBV and ADBV were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Associations were evaluated using linear mixed effects models. All tests of statistical significance are 2-sided.

RESULTS: Height was significantly positively associated with %DBV but not ADBV; for each standard deviation (SD) increase in height, %DBV increased by 18.7% in adjusted models. In contrast, all measures of adiposity and body fat distribution were significantly inversely associated with %DBV; a SD increase in body mass index (BMI), percent fat mass, waist circumference and the android:gynoid fat mass ratio (A:G ratio) each was associated significantly with a 44.4% - 47.0% decrease in %DBV after adjustment for childhood BMI and other covariates. Although associations were weaker than for %DBV, all measures of adiposity and body fat distribution also were significantly inversely associated with ADBV before adjustment for childhood BMI. However, after adjustment for childhood BMI only the DXA measures percent fat mass and A:G ratio remained significant; a SD increase in each was associated with a 13.8% - 19.6% decrease in ADBV . In mutually adjusted analysis, percent fat mass and the A:G ratio remained significantly inversely associated with %DBV, but only the A:G ratio was significantly associated with ADBV; a SD increase in A:G ratio was associated with a 18.5% decrease in ADBV.

CONCLUSIONS: Total adiposity and body fat distribution are independently inversely associated with %DBV, whereas in mutually adjusted analysis only body fat distribution (A:G ratio) remained significantly inversely associated with ADBV in young women. Research is needed to identify biological mechanisms underlying these associations.

Rights and Permissions

© 2012 Dorgan et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI of Published Version



Breast Cancer Res. 2012 Jul 16;14(4):R107. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Breast cancer research : BCR

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID




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