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Overweight, obesity boosts invasive breast cancer risk

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By Jimmy Downs

Saturday Oct 13, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Obesity may increase risk of invasive breast cancer in premenopausal women significantly, according to a new study in Cancer Prevention Research.

The study led by Reena S. Cecchini at NSABP Biostatistical Center One Sterling Plaza in Pittsburgh, PA showed that men and women with a body mass index of 25 to 29.9 or 30 or more were at 59 or 70 percent more likely to develop invasive breast cancer, compared with those with a BMI of 25 or lower.

For the study, researchers analysed data from 12,243 premenopausal or postmenopausal women with 253 invasive breast cancer cases from the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial (P-1) and 19,488 postmenopausal women with 557 cases from the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR). 

Women in both studies were considered at high risk because of their having a Gail score equal or greater than 1.66, but they had no breast cancer history.

The researchers found in both studies, overweight and obese postmenopausal women were at slightly but insignificantly increased risk of invasive breast cancer, compared with their lean counterparts.

In premenopausal participants, overweight women were at 59 percent increased risk of invasive breast cancer and obesity women were at 70 percent increased risk for the disease, compared with those having a BMI of lower than 25 kg/m2.
The researchers concluded "Our investigation among annually screened, high-risk participants in randomized, breast cancer chemoprevention trials showed that higher levels of BMI were significantly associated with increased breast cancer risk in premenopausal women older than 35 years, but not postmenopausal women."

High body mass index (BMI) has already been associated with an increased risk for breast cancer in postmenopausal women, according to the authors.

Another study in the International Journal of Cancer also found obesity linked with higher risk of breast cancer.

Kami K. White at University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Honolulu, HI and colleagues conducted the study and found Native Hawaiian women with a body mass index 30 kg/m2 or greater or obesity were at 82 percent increased risk of  breast cancer, compared to those who had a BMI of 20 to 24.9 kg/m2.  

Invasive breast cancer is highly lethal.  Breast cancer, which is diagnosed in about 230,000 women each year in the United States and kills about 37,000 annually, may be prevented easily in many cases.

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