Obesity Causes Post-Menopausal Women Problems

Obesity increases risk of triple-negative breast cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Obesity contributes to so many health problems that it seems impossible to list all of them. Results from a recent study now add to that list of diseases that are caused, at least partially, by obesity.

In a recent study that examined the relationship between body size (measured with body mass index, or BMI), physical activity, and breast cancer, Amanda Phipps, of the Fed Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and colleagues found that women with the highest BMIs faced a 35 percent greater risk of developing a type of breast cancer called triple-negative, compared to women with the lowest BMIs. Triple-negative breast cancer is more aggressive and less responsive to regular treatment.

dailyrx Insight: Obese post-menopausal women have about a 30 percent greater risk of getting several types of breast cancer.

Using data from more than 155,000 women, researchers found that women with the highest BMIs not only had an increased risk of triple-negative cancer, but also a 39 percent increased risk of developing other kinds of breast cancer.

The data used came from a large-scale study of postmenopausal women called the Women's Health Initiative. Women involved in the study had their BMIs measured in addition to reporting on their exercise habits, weight, and height.

Phipps and colleagues also found a slight relationship between increased physical activity and a reduced risk of both estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer (breast cancer fueled by estrogen) and triple-negative breast cancer.

Although the researchers acknowledge that their results need a little more substantiation, they conclude that if the relationship between BMI, physical activity, and various kinds of breast cancer is confirmed, then the results of the study provide possible ways for postmenopausal women to reduce their risk of both estrogen receptor-positive and triple-negative breast cancer.

Obesity has definitively been linked to health complications including stroke, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, all of which burden America with billions of dollars in avoidable health care costs.

The study by Phipps and colleagues is published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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Review Date: 
March 16, 2011
Last Updated:
March 17, 2011