New Data Reveal Link Between Body Weight, Breast Cancer Survival

Jill Murphy, Associate Editor

The new study evaluated data from 5000 patients with EBC and 3496 with ABC to determine associations between BMI and survival rates across both stages.

Researchers at Flinders University have established a link between high body mass index (BMI) and breast cancer survival rates, with clinical data revealing worse outcomes for early breast cancer (EBC) patients and improved survival rates in advanced breast cancer (ABC).

The new study evaluated data from 5000 patients with EBC and 3496 with ABC to determine associations between BMI and survival rates across both stages. The researchers noted that the results present an “obesity paradox” that will impact the survival outcomes of the 19,807 women and 167 men diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2020.

"Higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with an increased risk of developing many types of cancer including breast cancer as a result of elevated levels of circulating sex hormones such as estrogen, estrone, and testosterone, high serum leptin, and chronic inflammation that are associated with high BMI,” said Natansh Modi, NHMRC, PhD candidate at Flinders University.

Co-author Ashley Hopkins, MD, added that the study utilizes high quality contemporary medicines data to demonstrate higher BMI as independently associated with worse survival in EBC and paradoxically improved survival in advanced disease.

"This is world first evidence of an obesity paradox in breast cancer and highlights an urgent need to understand the biological basis of obesity impacts throughout breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,” Hopkins said in the press release.

REFERENCE

Decoding the effect of body mass index on breast cancer. EurekAlert! Published April 30, 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/fu-dte043021.php