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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):2009-14.

Body mass and mortality after breast cancer diagnosis.

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  • 1Epidemic Intelligence Service, Division of Applied Public Health Training, Epidemiology Program Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway Northeast, Mailstop K-34, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, USA.


Obesity is an established risk factor for some breast cancers, but less is known about its effect on breast cancer prognosis. Understanding this relationship is important, given the increasing number of women diagnosed with breast cancer and the growing prevalence of obesity. We conducted a cohort analysis of 3,924 women ages 20 to 54 with incident breast cancer enrolled between 1980 and 1982 in the Cancer and Steroid Hormone study, a case-control study. Interview data were linked to survival information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. We used proportional hazards models to examine the relationship between breast cancer mortality and adult body mass index (BMI; calculated using usual adult weight), BMI at age 18, and weight change from age 18 to adulthood. Hazard ratios (HR) were adjusted for cancer stage and other factors. During a median follow-up of 14.6 years, 1,347 women died of breast cancer. Obese women (adult BMI>or=30.00) were significantly more likely than lean women (BMI<or=22.99) to die of breast cancer [HR, 1.34; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.09-1.65]. Women with BMIs of 25.00-29.99 (HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.08-1.44) or 23.00-24.99 (HR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.04-1.39) also had higher breast cancer mortality (P for trend <0.0001). BMI at age 18 and weight change were not associated with breast cancer mortality independently of other factors. Obesity could be a preventable risk factor for death among breast cancer patients. Further study is needed to determine how these findings might affect recommendations to reduce breast cancer mortality.

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