Women with dense breasts breathed a sigh of relief a couple of years ago when a study showed that they weren't at a higher risk for cancer. But that may no longer be the case anymore, according to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco.
Researchers looked at over 200,000 women ages 40 to 47, and divided their breasts into the following categories: entirely or mostly fatty breasts and women who had moderate or mostly dense breasts. Breasts are made up of milk glands, milk ducts, connective tissue, and fatty tissue, and women whose breasts have more glandular tissue than fatty tissue are said to have dense breasts. About 40 percent fall into that category.
Scientists were shocked to find that those women who had at least 75 percent density had the biggest risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, dense breasts accounted for 40 percent of breast cancers in pre-menopausal women and 25 percent in post-menopausal women. They were a bigger risk factor than family history (10 percent), obesity, and having kids later in life (meaning, after 30).
There's not much you can do about the state of your breasts, but the researchers did find that women could cut their cancer rate by as much as one-fourth if they got down to a normal BMI.