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

New therapeutic approach for difficult-to-treat subtype of ovarian cancer identified

July 24, 2017
A potential new therapeutic strategy for a difficult-to-treat form of ovarian cancer has been discovered by Wistar scientists. The findings were published online in Nature Cell Biology.

Anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent inhibits glioblastoma growth and radiation resistance

July 24, 2017
Glioblastoma is a primary brain tumor with dismal survival rates, even after treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. A small subpopulation of tumor cells—glioma stem cells—is responsible for glioblastoma's ...

Immune cells the missing ingredient in new bladder cancer treatment

July 24, 2017
New research offers a possible explanation for why a new type of cancer treatment hasn't been working as expected against bladder cancer.

No dye: Cancer patients' gray hair darkened on immune drugs

July 21, 2017
Cancer patients' gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

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.