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Front Oncol. 2012 Oct 4;2:123. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2012.00123. eCollection 2012.

Impact of body mass index on breast cancer in accordance with the life-stage of women.

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Division of Medical Nutrition, Department of Healthcare, Tokyo Health Care University Tokyo, Japan.


A large amount of epidemiological evidence suggests that the impact of body weight on breast cancer risk should be heterogeneous throughout the life-stage of women. At birth, high weight has been positively associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. While, the body mass index (a relative body weight; BMI kg/m(2)) has been inversely associated with breast cancer risk among pre-menopausal women. The inverse trend had been observed in both Western and Asian population, with a relatively lower percentage of obesity and higher percentage of leanness, suggested that the inverse trend could be explained not only by the protective impact due to obesity, but also by the increased risk of breast cancer due to leanness. Among post-menopausal women, however, an elevated BMI has been positively associated with the development of breast cancer, particularly in the cases of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and progesterone receptor-positive (PR+) tumors. Currently, the mechanisms underlying the heterogeneous impacts between BMI on breast cancer risk and the life-stage of women remain poorly understood. We reviewed several proposed biological mechanisms that may contribute to the various impacts of relative body weight on breast cancer risk across life-stage. We also discussed the impact of BMI upon the outcome of endocrine therapy, particularly for aromatase inhibitor, in breast cancer patients. To prevent breast cancer incidence and recurrence, the desirable BMI of women may differ throughout their life-stage. To define the underlying mechanism for the various impacts of BMI in the context of breast cancer across various female life stages, further studies will be required.


BMI; body weight; breast cancer; estrogen receptor; progesterone receptor; risk

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