Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 135, Issue 1, pp 321–323 | Cite as

Breast fat and breast cancer

  • Andreas Pettersson
  • Rulla M. Tamimi
Letter To the Editor


There is a well-established association between high mammographic density and risk of breast cancer. We recently observed, somewhat to our surprise, a strong inverse association between the nondense area on a mammogram and risk of breast cancer [1]. In this article, we briefly discuss this finding in the context of previous studies of mammographic density and breast cancer risk, as well as in context of prior findings of the association between excess body weight and breast cancer risk. We suggest that the notion that breast fat plays a protective role in breast carcinogenesis, at least during the premenopausal years, should be considered.

Mammographic density and breast cancer risk

Fibroglandular breast tissue is radiographically dense whereas adipose tissue is nondense. Mammographic density is commonly expressed as the percentage dense area. That is, the dense area divided by the total area on a mammogram (the dense area plus the nondense area). Compared to women with...


Breast Cancer Breast Cancer Risk Mammographic Density Dense Area Postmenopausal Breast Cancer 
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We thank Drs. Pagona Lagiou and Dimitrios Trichopoulos for valuable suggestions on the manuscript.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Channing Laboratory, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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