Dr. Neomi Vin-Raviv of the School of Public Health at the University of Haifa in Israel and colleagues found women who were up to age 7 during the war had a three times higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who were age 14 or older.
Sixty-five women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2005 and 2010 were compared with 200 controls without breast cancer. All the women lived in Israel. The women with breast cancer were recruited from five medical centers and the controls were members of various organizations for Jewish World War II survivors.
"The women who took part in our study all lived under Nazi control for at least six months,"
Vin-Raviv said in a statement. "We were keen to see what effect restricted calories during this period had on the development of breast cancer and how exposure at an early age, before breast development, affected the potential risk."
The study, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, found 49 percent of the women who had been age 7 and younger who suffered from severe hunger during WWII got breast cancer versus 27 percent of the control group.
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