Overweight and obese women with hormone receptor (HR)-positive operable breast cancer have an increased risk of disease recurrence and death despite optimal treatment with chemo-hormonal therapy, according to new study findings.
Although it has been known for some time that women with more body fat produce more estrogen, which is thought to fuel some hormone receptor-positive breast cancers and make them harder to treat, the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and outcomes by breast cancer subtype had not been evaluated until the recent investigation by Joseph A. Sparano, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, and colleagues. The researchers examined the association between BMI and outcomes in three separate trials. The trials involved chemotherapy for women with stage I-III breast cancer. The women had no significant other diseases that might affect outcome.
“We found that obesity at diagnosis of breast cancer is associated with about a 30% higher risk of recurrence and a nearly 50% higher risk of death despite optimal treatment,” noted Sparano in a statement announcing the study results, which were published by the journal Cancer. “Treatment strategies aimed at interfering with hormonal changes and inflammation caused by obesity may help reduce the risk of recurrence.”
Bottom line: being obese or even overweight is not good when it comes to risk of breast cancer and optimizing overall health. If you are overweight, speak to your doctor to develop the proper program of exercise and nutrition.
Author Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson is an esteemed member of our Scientific Advisory Board and Founder of Bffl.co, a fashionable line of bags, bras and surgical accessories for the modern age of breast treatment.