Bone Density May Help Determine Risk of Breast Cancer

A woman’s bone mineral density may be helpful in determining the risk of breast cancer, a new study finds.

The research for this study suggests that a physician is better able to determine a woman’s risk for breast cancer by running bone mineral density tests. This type of testing is currently done to diagnose osteoporosis and also to determine the risk of fractures. Studies currently being done have shown that higher bone mineral density can also lead to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This study is the first of its kind that links bone density and breast cancer incidences among postmenopausal women.

To conduct this study, researchers assessed approximately 10,000 postmenopausal women by measuring their bone density levels and also their score on the Gail risk model, which is a commonly used tool estimating five year and lifetime risk of invasive breast cancer. The women were then followed for 8 years and researchers noted which ones developed breast cancer.

The study found that women scoring highly on the Gail risk model had a 35 percent increased chance of developing breast cancer. Women that scored highly on both tests had a much higher risk in breast cancer.

Researchers found that adding bone mineral density to current assessment tests may greatly improve the prediction of breast cancer risk.

This study is published in the September 2008 issue of CANCER, which is a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell