Women's reproductive cancers in evolutionary context

S. Boyd Eaton, Malcolm C. Pike, Roger V. Short, Nancy C. Lee, James Trussell, Robert A. Hatcher, James W. Wood, Carol M. Worthman, Nicholas G. Blurton Jones, Melvin J. Konner, Kim R. Hill, Robert Bailey, A. Magdalena Hurtado

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163 Scopus citations


Reproductive experiences for women in today's affluent Western nations differ from those of women in hunting and gathering societies, who continue the ancestral human pattern. These differences parallel commonly accepted reproductive risk factors for cancers of the breast, endometrium and ovary. Nutritional practices, exercise requirements, and body composition are nonreproductive influences that have been proposed as additional factors affecting the incidence of women's cancers. In each case, these would further increase risk for women in industrialized countries relative to forager women. Lifestyles and reproductive patterns new from an evolutionary perspective may promote women's cancers. Calculations based on a theoretical model suggest that, to age 60, modern Western women have a breast cancer risk as much as 100 times that of preagricultural women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Review of Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences

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