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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Jan;131(1):325-31. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1790-x. Epub 2011 Oct 2.

A retrospective review of the metabolic syndrome in women diagnosed with breast cancer and correlation with estrogen receptor.

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  • 1Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA.


Women diagnosed with obesity and breast cancer have an increased risk of recurrence and death (Protani et al., Breast Cancer Res Treat 123:627-635, 1). Obesity is associated with the metabolic syndrome--a pathophysiologically distinct inflammatory process comprised of central obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and atherogenic dyslipidemia. The relationship of obesity as a risk factor for breast cancer is complex with a protective effect for younger women in contrast to a risk for older women (Kabat et al., Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 18:2046-2053, 2; Ursin et al., Epidemiology 6:137-141, 3). The metabolic syndrome has been associated with the risk of cancer, and pro-inflammatory circulating factors may be associated with risk of more aggressive breast cancer (Capasso et al., Cancer Biol Ther 10:1240-1243, 4; Healy et al., Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 22:281-288, 5; Laukkanen et al., Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 13:1646-1650, 6). We conducted a retrospective review of 860 breast cancer patients to determine the relationship between estrogen receptor status and the metabolic syndrome. We collected the relevant metabolic diagnoses, medications, physical findings, and laboratory values and adapted the National Cholesterol Education Program criteria to define the metabolic syndrome retrospectively. No relationship was found between estrogen receptor status and the individual components of the metabolic syndrome. Based on findings in the medical records, 15% of the women with breast cancer had the metabolic syndrome, and 26% of the women were considered obese, 16% hyperglycemic, 54% hypertensive, and 30% dyslipidemic. The metabolic syndrome was associated with advanced age and African-American race (P < 0.001). When adjusted for age, race, and stage, the metabolic syndrome was marginally associated with estrogen receptor-positive tumors (P = 0.054). Our findings do not support the concern that the metabolic syndrome may contribute to more biologically aggressive breast cancer.

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