Dec 13, 2008 | 3
Doctors know that women who have dense breasts have as much as six times the risk of breast cancer as those who have less dense breasts. But they haven’t been quite sure why.
New research presented today at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium offers possible clues: Biopsies of healthy women showed differences in the cells of dense and nondense tissue that may contribute to the development of tumors.
Mayo Clinic docs performed mammograms and biopsies on 60 women ages 45-85 with no history or symptoms of breast cancer. Data that's come back from about half of them showed that dense breast tissue was composed of 6 percent epithelial cells, which line the milk glands and ducts, compared to just 1 percent in the nondense tissue. Some 64 percent of the dense tissue was made up of stroma, or connective tissue, compared to 20 percent in the nondense tissue. And dense tissue was comprised of 30 percent fat, versus 80 percent in nondense tissue.
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