Women who go up one skirt size every 10 years between their mid-20s and mid-60s are at a 33% greater risk of developing breast cancer after the menopause, new research has found.

Weight gain measured through an increase in body mass index (BMI) was known to be a risk factor, particularly around the midriff, but a study of 90,000 women is the first to make a connection between breast cancer and skirt size.

The results show that an expanding waistline could be more harmful. Those who went up by two sizes every decade in the same period saw an increased risk of 77%, according to the University College London study.The research could provide a valuable insight into breast cancer prevention.

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