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

One in five young colon cancer patients have genetic link

December 13, 2017
As doctors grapple with increasing rates of colorectal cancers in young people, new research from the University of Michigan may offer some insight into how the disease developed and how to prevent further cancers. Researchers ...

New strategy for unleashing cancer-fighting power of p53 gene

December 13, 2017
Tumor protein p53 is one of the most critical determinants of the fate of cancer cells, as it can determine whether a cell lives or dies in response to stress. In a new study published today in the journal Nature Communications, ...

Researchers develop test that can diagnose two cancer types

December 12, 2017
A blood test using infrared spectroscopy can be used to diagnose two types of cancer, lymphoma and melanoma, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

Cancer-causing mutation suppresses immune system around tumours

December 12, 2017
Mutations in 'Ras' genes, which drive 25% of human cancers by causing tumour cells to grow, multiply and spread, can also protect cancer cells from the immune system, finds a new study from the Francis Crick Institute and ...

Atoh1, a potential Achilles' heel of Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma

December 12, 2017
Medulloblastoma is the most common type of solid brain tumor in children. Current treatments offer limited success and may leave patients with severe neurological side effects, including psychiatric disorders, growth retardation ...

MRI scans predict patients' ability to fight the spread of cancer

December 12, 2017
A simple, non-invasive procedure that can indicate how long patients with cancer that has spread to the brain might survive and whether they are likely to respond to immunotherapy has been developed by researchers in Liverpool.

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.