Body Mass Index associated with breast cancer, regardless of body shape

April 16, 2014

A study of predominantly white women finds a larger waist circumference is associated with higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, but not beyond its contribution to BMI. The study, by American Cancer Society researchers, fails to confirm previous findings that body shape itself is an independent risk factor for breast cancer. The current study appears in the April 2014 issue of Cancer Causes, and Control.

A significant body of research has linked abdominal obesity to a number of conditions, including heart disease, type II diabetes, and breast and other cancers. Those studies have led to the theory that having an "apple shaped" body, with weight concentrated in the chest and torso, is riskier than having a "pear-shaped" body, with fat concentrated in the hips, thighs and buttocks.

To explore the theory, researchers led by Mia Gadet, PhD, analyzed data from 28,965 women participating in the Cancer Prevention Study II. Among those women there were 1,088 invasive breast cancer cases diagnosed during a median 11.58 years of follow-up. They found a statistically significant positive association between and postmenopausal ; however, when they adjusted for BMI, the association disappeared.

"The message is that if you have a high BMI, regardless if you are pear or apple shaped, you are at higher risk of breast cancer," said Dr. Gaudet. "Most prior studies on this issue looked at BMI or at waist circumference, but had not looked at them together. This study brings some clarity to the association between obesity and risk of breast cancer."

Dr. Gaudet says the data could help women focus on what's important in what has been a confusing array of potential risk factors for breast cancer. "We know being overweight, particularly when the weight gain happened during adulthood, is one of the important modifiable risk factors for in post-menopausal . This new data indicates it's not what shape you are, it's what kind of shape you are in that probably ought to be their focus."

Explore further: Follow-up care for older breast cancer survivors needs to be all-encompassing

More information: Waist circumference, body mass index, and postmenopausal breast cancer incidence in the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort, M. Gaudet, B Carter, A Patel, L Teras, E Jacobs, S Gapstur, Cancer Causes & Control, April 2014 DOI: 10.1007/s10552-014-0376-4

Related Stories

Follow-up care for older breast cancer survivors needs to be all-encompassing

February 26, 2014
Older women who have overcome breast cancer are likely to struggle with heart disease, osteoporosis and hypertension further on in their lives. Whether these conditions occur or not is influenced by the treatment that patients ...

Association between hormone replacement therapy use and breast cancer risk varies

September 3, 2013
Breast cancer risk associated with use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) among postmenopausal women was variable when analyzed by race/ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), and breast density, according to a new study published ...

Study: Post-menopausal women with diabetes at greater risk of breast cancer

September 14, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Women with type II diabetes are nearly 30 per cent more likely to get breast cancer, according to results of a comprehensive review published in the British Journal of Cancer today (Friday).

New evidence links smoking to postmenopausal breast cancer risk

March 19, 2014
Postmenopausal women who smoke or have smoked in the past may have an increased risk of breast cancer compared with women who have never smoked according to a new study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Recommended for you

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 ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

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 ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

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.