Researchers at University College London say women who find themselves going up a skirt size every 10 years after hitting their mid-20s have a 33 percent greater risk of getting breast cancer after menopause.
"If skirt size could be confirmed by others as a good predictor of breast cancer risk in older women, this would be a very simple and easy way to monitor weight gain," Professor Usha Menon, the study's leader, told BBC News.
More than 90,000 women in their 50s and 60s living in England were tracked for the study, and during a three year follow-up period, 1,090 developed breast cancer. The researchers found that for every single increase in skirt size (i.e. going from a size 8 to size 10) each decade between 25 and post-menopause, there was a 33 percent increased risk of breast cancer. Going up two skirt sizes was linked to a 77 percent greater risk.
Researchers acknowledged that they were relying on the women to accurately remember their skirt sizes from many years ago, but if the link proves true, it could help people understand the connection between cancer and obesity. "We know that 40 percent of breast cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle such as being regularly active and maintaining a healthy weight," said Simon Vincent of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. "This study highlights an easy way to monitor your weight gain over time. Women are more likely to remember their skirt size when they were younger than their BMI."