Obesity Linked to Worse Outcomes With Early Breast
WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Obese women with early
stage breast cancer are less likely to survive than other women who
are of normal weight, new research suggests.
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine are slated to
present their findings Wednesday at the 2011 San Antonio Breast
"The findings add to the body of evidence indicating that obesity, in general, increases a patient's chance for having a worse prognosis," lead researcher Dr. Sao Jiralerspong, an assistant professor of medicine at Baylor, said in a symposium news release. "Obesity is a probable risk factor for worse breast cancer outcomes, and ours is the latest study to suggest it has an effect on treatment outcome as well."
In conducting the study, researchers analyzed the link between
weight and treatment of 4,368 women with early-stage breast cancer
over the course of 25 years. The investigators found that the
participants who were overweight had survival rates that were
similar to the women of normal weight, but those who were obese had
an increased risk for shorter time to recurrence, and worse
disease-free and overall survival.
Although the obese women who received no additional chemotherapy
or endocrine therapy had worse outcomes, the study noted that obese
patients who received chemotherapy fared significantly worse than
Jiralerspong suggested that biological factors linked to extra
weight -- such as higher blood insulin and estrogen levels,
inflammation and growth factors secreted by fat cells -- could help
explain these findings.
The researchers also revealed, however, that obese women treated
with endocrine therapy, primarily tamoxifen, had significantly
better survival rates than women who were of normal weight.
"Finding that overweight patients have a better outcome than normal-weight patients after tamoxifen treatment is surprising. We are examining the possible reasons for this," noted Jiralerspong.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data
and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
In addition, more research is needed to understand how obesity
affects treatment for breast cancer, particular since new
treatments have been introduced since the study was conducted, the
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about the link
obesity and cancer.
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