Obesity and weight gain associated with poorer breast cancer survival

and this risk increased as weight gain increased. This was also most evident in women who had never smoked. Never-smoking women who gained more than 2.0 kg/m2 or an average of 17 lbs, were 1.5 times more likely to have a recurrence of their disease or to die during follow-up than women who maintained their weight (within 0.5 kg/m2 of their original weight).

"Combining smokers and non-smokers in analyses may mask the true relationship between weight and survival after a breast cancer diagnosis, since smoking is generally related to both lower levels of weight and a higher risk of death overall," said Candyce Kroenke, ScD, of the Department of Medicine at Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and lead author of the study.

"Researchers have also speculated that obesity acts on cancer by raising the body's levels of sex hormones such as estrogen, particularly in post-menopausal women. However, since smoking may promote the formation of less biologically active estrogens, it may be more difficult to understand the relationship between weight and breast cancer when combining smokers and non-smokers in a study. This study suggests a more complex relationship between weight and breast cancer survival than was originally considered," Dr. Kroenke added.

The researchers noted that the associations between weight gain and survival were stronger in women with early stage cancer, those who were normal-weight prior to diagnosis, and those who were premenopausal compared with women with later stage cancer, or those who were overweight or postmenopausal.

"Women recently diagnosed with breast cancer or at high risk for the disease should take steps to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of recurrence and death," said Dr. Kroenke.

An accompanying editorial by Rowan T. Chlebowski, MD, PhD, Medical Oncologist, at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center noted that the study raises importa

Contact: Danielle Potuto
American Society of Clinical Oncology

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