Minireview: Obesity and breast cancer: the estrogen connection

Endocrinology. 2009 Jun;150(6):2537-42. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-0070. Epub 2009 Apr 16.


There is now substantial evidence that overweight and/or obesity and/or weight gain are risk factors for the development of postmenopausal breast cancer. In addition, obesity and/or elevated body mass index at breast cancer diagnosis has a negative impact on prognosis for both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Therefore, understanding the mechanism of how obesity affects the mammary tumorigenesis process is an important health issue. Elevated serum estrogen levels as well as enhanced local production of estrogen have been considered primary mediators of how increased body weight promotes breast cancer development in postmenopausal women. Here, we provide an overview of estrogen's relationship with both obesity and breast cancer as separate entities. Human and relevant preclinical studies are cited. In addition, other growth factors that may be involved in this relationship are considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Estrogens