The Obesity Made Simple Blog

Obesity and Breast Cancer

Nov 25, 2022

                                     Obesity and Breast Cancer

A rising number of people in the United States and elsewhere are overweight or obese. Obesity is related to a poor prognosis in women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, and it has been linked to an increased incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer. Women who are overweight or obese at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis are at a higher risk of cancer recurrence and death compared with women who maintain a healthier weight, and there is some evidence to suggest that women who gain weight after their diagnosis may also be at an increased risk of poor outcomes. 

This study provides an overview of the evidence between obesity with breast cancer recurrence, and it discusses the possible biochemical pathways through which one's weight can affect the likelihood of a cancerous tumor cancer prognosis, and look at the research done on weight-loss interventions in breast cancer patients.

Weight at Diagnosis and Prognosis in Early Breast Cancer: an Observational Study

The first study to look at how being overweight affected the likelihood of breast cancer returning was published by Abe et al. in 1976.

Women who were overweight or obese had a 5-year survival rate of 55.6%, while women who maintained a healthy weight had a survival rate of 79.9%, as shown by the study. In addition, the study found that tumor size, lymphatic invasion, and nodal involvement were all significantly greater in obese women. 

There have been more than 50 follow-up studies investigating the correlation between BMI and breast cancer survival rates since this article was published. Women who are overweight at the time of diagnosis have a 30% increased risk of death from all causes including breast cancer. This was shown in a recent meta-analysis of 45 studies published before 2005.

The authors also demonstrated that the relationship between obesity and poor prognosis was independent of menopausal status, type of study (observational vs treatment trial), year of study report (prior to or after 1995), and type of weight measurement (body mass index [BMI] vs weight).


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Ligibel, Jennifer, Obesity and Breast cancer, oncology, vo,l25, number 112, issue 11