Obesity and prognosis of breast cancer

Obes Rev. 2006 Nov;7(4):333-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2006.00261.x.


Obesity has a complicated relationship to both breast cancer risk and the clinical behaviour of the established disease. It is suggested that obesity is associated with both an increased risk of developing breast cancer risk and worse prognosis after disease onset. In post-menopausal women, various measures of obesity such as body mass index, weight, weight gain and waist : hip ratio have all been positively associated with risk of developing breast cancer. In most but not all case-control and prospective cohort studies, an inverse relationship has been found between weight and breast cancer among pre-menopausal women. Some data suggest that adult weight gain and central obesity increase the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer. Obesity at the time of diagnosis is thought to be significant as a poor prognostic factor. Obesity is associated with adverse outcomes in both pre- and post-menopausal women with breast cancer. Many cancer survivors seek ways to minimize the risk of recurrence and death because of breast cancer. Despite complex and at times controversial data, enough evidence is available at present to suggest that weight management should be a part of the strategy to prevent the occurrence, recurrence and death because of breast cancer. In this review the effect of obesity on the prognosis of breast cancer is examined in detail.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Constitution / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss / physiology*