Obese and overweight women face increased risk of recurrence of most common type of breast cancer

August 27, 2012

Extra pounds—even within the overweight but not obese range—are linked to a higher risk of recurrence of the most common type of breast cancer despite optimal cancer treatment, according to a new study published early online in Cancer. The study's results suggest that extra body fat causes hormonal changes and inflammation that may drive some cases of breast cancer to spread and recur despite treatment.

Women who are obese when they are diagnosed with breast cancer have an increased risk of dying prematurely compared with women of normal weight. In this new study, Joseph Sparano, MD, of the College of Medicine's Montefiore Medical Center, in Bronx, NY, and his colleagues across the US cancer cooperative groups compared the health outcomes of obese and with others in a large group of women with stage I-III breast cancer who had participated in three –sponsored treatment trials led by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (now part of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group). All of the trials (E1199, E5188, and E3189) required participants to have normal heart, kidney, liver, and bone marrow function, thereby excluding patients with other significant health issues. As a result, researchers were able to disentangle the influence of obesity from other factors affecting cancer recurrence and survival.

The researchers found that increasing body mass index—a measure of the body's fat content—significantly increased women's risk of and death, despite optimal treatment including chemotherapy and hormonal therapy. There was a stepwise relationship between increasing and poor outcomes only in women with hormone receptor–positive breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer that accounts for approximately two-thirds of all breast cancer cases in the United States and worldwide.

"We found that obesity at diagnosis of is associated with about a 30 percent higher risk of recurrence and a nearly 50 percent higher risk of death despite optimal treatment," said Dr. Sparano. "Treatment strategies aimed at interfering with hormonal changes and inflammation caused by obesity may help reduce the risk of recurrence," he added.

Explore further: Obesity raises breast cancer survivors' risk of dying of the cancer

More information: "Obesity at diagnosis is associated with inferior outcomes in hormone receptor-positive operable breast cancer." Joseph A. Sparano, Molin Wang, Fengmin Zhao, Vered Stearns, Silvana Martino, Jennifer A. Ligibel, Edith A. Perez, Tom Saphner, Antonio C. Wolff, George W. Sledge, Jr., William C. Wood, John Fetting, and Nancy E. Davidson. CANCER; Published Online: August 27, 2012 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27527).

Related Stories

Obesity raises breast cancer survivors' risk of dying of the cancer

June 4, 2011
Women with a healthy body weight before and after diagnosis of breast cancer are more likely to survive the disease long term, a new study finds.

Breast density does not influence breast cancer death among breast cancer patients

August 20, 2012
The risk of dying from breast cancer was not related to high mammographic breast density in breast cancer patients, according to a study published August 20 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Recommended for you

Cell-weighing method could help doctors choose cancer drugs

November 20, 2017
Doctors have many drugs available to treat multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. However, there is no way to predict, by genetic markers or other means, how a patient will respond to a particular drug. This can lead to ...

Lung cancer triggers pulmonary hypertension

November 17, 2017
Shortness of breath and respiratory distress often increase the suffering of advanced-stage lung cancer patients. These symptoms can be triggered by pulmonary hypertension, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart ...

Researchers discover an Achilles heel in a lethal leukemia

November 16, 2017
Researchers have discovered how a linkage between two proteins in acute myeloid leukemia enables cancer cells to resist chemotherapy and showed that disrupting the linkage could render the cells vulnerable to treatment. St. ...

Computer program finds new uses for old drugs

November 16, 2017
Researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have developed a computer program to find new indications for old drugs. The computer program, called DrugPredict, ...

Pharmacoscopy improves therapy for relapsed blood cancer in a first clinical trial

November 16, 2017
Researchers at CeMM and the Medical University of Vienna presented a preliminary report in The Lancet Hematology on the clinical impact of an integrated ex vivo approach called pharmacoscopy. The procedures measure single-cell ...

Wider sampling of tumor tissues may guide drug choice, improve outcomes

November 15, 2017
A new study focused on describing genetic variations within a primary tumor, differences between the primary and a metastatic branch of that tumor, and additional diversity found in tumor DNA in the blood stream could help ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.