The epidemiological literature on breast cancer is reviewed with particular emphasis on the possible etiological role of nutritional status as reflected by weight and height. The results of a prospective study and preliminary results of a population-based case-control study seem to indicate that body size or body mass rather than overweight (obesity) is a risk factor. A considerable proportion of the differnces in incidence between the Netherlands and Japan can be explained by differences in body mass. The biological mechanisms mediating nutritional status and breast cancer are believed to be of an endocrinological-metabolic nature.

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Presented at the Conference on Nutrition in the Causation of Cancer, May 19 to 22, 1975, Key Biscayne, Fla. Supported by Contract NO1-CB 33885 from the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.

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