The association between weight at birth and breast cancer risk revisited using Mendelian randomisation
© 2019, The Author(s). Observational studies suggest that higher birth weight (BW) is associated with increased risk of breast cancer in adult life. We conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomisation (MR) study to assess whether this association is causal. Sixty independent single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) known to be associated at P < 5 × 10 −8 with BW were used to construct (1) a 41-SNP instrumental variable (IV) for univariable MR after removing SNPs with pleiotropic associations with other breast cancer risk factors and (2) a 49-SNP IV for multivariable MR after filtering SNPs for data availability. BW predicted by the 41-SNP IV was not associated with overall breast cancer risk in inverse-variance weighted (IVW) univariable MR analysis of genetic association data from 122,977 breast cancer cases and 105,974 controls (odds ratio = 0.86 per 500 g higher BW; 95% confidence interval 0.73–1.01). Sensitivity analyses using four alternative methods and three alternative IVs, including an IV with 59 of the 60 BW-associated SNPs, yielded similar results. Multivariable MR adjusting for the effects of the 49-SNP IV on birth length, adult height, adult body mass index, age at menarche, and age at menopause using IVW and MR-Egger methods provided estimates consistent with univariable analyses. Results were also similar when all analyses were repeated after restricting to estrogen receptor-positive or -negative breast cancer cases. Point estimates of the odds ratios from most analyses performed indicated an inverse relationship between genetically-predicted BW and breast cancer, but we are unable to rule out an association between the non-genetically-determined component of BW and breast cancer. Thus, genetically-predicted higher BW was not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in adult life in our MR study.
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