London, Oct 9 (UNI) Women whose mothers are wide hipped are seven times more likely to develop breast cancer, researchers have warned.
A study conducted on thousands of women has revealed a clear link between the two.
In general, daughters of women with wide hips are 60 per cent more likely than others to be diagnosed with breast cancer, the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths.
But the risk rises to more than seven-fold if the mother carried them for the full 40 weeks of pregnancy and if they have older siblings.
Researcher Professor David Barker said the phenomenon can be explained by the effect of oestrogen and could eventually lead to a drug to prevent breast cancer.
It is thought that high levels of the hormone in a woman's blood at the start and end of pregnancy cause dangerous changes to the immature breast tissue in the developing baby.
The width of a women's hips is directly related to the amount of oestrogen she is producing - and so the amount her unborn baby is exposed to.
''A women's hip size is a marker of her oestrogen production.
Wide, round hips represent markers of high sex hormone concentrations in the mother, which increase her daughter's vulnerability to breast cancer,'' Southampton University Prof Barker was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
The Proffessor made the link after studying the health of more than 6,000 Finnish women born from 1934 to 1944 and comparing it with information on their mothers' hip size.
Analysis showed that a woman's risk of breast cancer went up by 60 per cent if her mother's hips were more than 11.8in (30cm) across.
The risk increased with hip size and with the length of time the baby was in the womb.
Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK said more research was needed to confirm the link between hip size and breast cancer in the next generation.
She said, ''The importance of oestrogen in stimulating the growth of breast cancer is well known.'' ''While this study appears to show an effect that crosses a generation, we would need to see the results confirmed in followup studies,'' she added.