Daughters of women with wide, round hips may be more likely to develop breast cancer, it has been found.
Researchers discovered that cancer rates were three times higher in women whose mothers had large, rounded hips and seven times higher if those mothers had already given birth to one or more children.
Specifically, a woman's susceptibility to cancer was reportedly increased if her mother's intercristal diameter - the term used to describe the distance between the wing-like structures at the top of the hip bone - is greater than 30 centimetres.
"A woman's hips are shaped at puberty when the growth of her hip bones is controlled by sex hormones, and also influenced by the level of nutrition," explained lead researcher professor David Barker, professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Southampton.
"Every woman has a unique sex hormone profile which is established at puberty and persists through her reproductive life.
"Our findings show for the first time that the growth spurt of girls at puberty is strongly associated with the risk of breast cancer in their daughters."
The study, which was carried out in the US and Finland as well as the UK, appears in the American Journal of Human Biology.