Asymmetrical breasts: A presage to cancer?
Asymmetrical breasts are quite common, but a substantial
difference in breast measurement may signal cancer.
BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT
March 25, 2006
Asymmetry is the norm when it comes to female breasts. It is rather rare to find both the breasts in a woman similar and picture-perfect. But lopsided breasts are not as harmless as we used to think. Women with breasts which differ much in volume are more prone to breast cancer, according to a study.
A University of Liverpool study found that, if a woman's breasts differed from each other by 100 millilitres, she was 50% more likely to develop cancer than someone with symmetrical breasts. The
occurrence of cancer was more on women with more asymmetrical breasts.
The UK study calculated breast volume of healthy women from mammograms taken between 1979 and 1986. Among the selected 252 women went on to develop breast cancer between that time and 2002, and another 252 women who remained healthy.
Most women have some small asymmetry in their breasts; only one person in the study had breasts that were a perfect match. The average difference was 50-60 millilitres for a typical 500 millilitre breast.
However, no reason as to why exactly women prone to breast cancer might have lopsided breasts many years before the tissue has started to turn visibly cancerous has been presented.
Researchers suggest that asymmetry could be a symptom of other genetic or health factors that predispose a woman to cancer. A quick study of breast symmetry during regular mammograms might identify those women at greater risk of developing cancer, when weighed with other risk factors such as a family history of the condition.
They now want to define the cut-off point at which a normal asymmetry becomes one that might increase the chances of cancer, and how important this is compared with other risk factors.
Theories say good symmetry means good set of genes. Looking for asymmetry is one way to target individuals who have health problems.