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Crit Rev Eukaryot Gene Expr. 2013;23(2):159-69.

Weight change patterns and breast cancer risk: a brief review and analysis.

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Cancer Prevention Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.


Body weight change is defined as one or more periods of weight gain or weight loss that can vary in terms of magnitude, timeframe over which the change(s) occurs, and the number of times the pattern changes. Epidemiological and clinical data provide evidence of increased lifetime risk for breast cancer due to adult weight gain and a reduction of risk with weight loss. These findings parallel the majority of preclinical carcinogenesis experiments in which caloric intake in excess of basal metabolic requirements in rodents permits the development of cancer in proportion to the level of caloric intake. Dieting has been unsuccessful in reducing cancer risk unless a lower body weight was maintained at the end of weight change. Based on this evidence, it is recommended that consideration be given to the inclusion of the following recommendations in clinical practice guidelines for managing lifetime risk for breast cancer: (1) maintain adult body mass index in the desirable range (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) by preventing adult weight gain in both pre- and postmenopausal women, and (2) actively monitor BMI and, when BMI is above the defined ideal range, prescribe corrective lifestyle changes until body weight returns to the target range.

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