Body weight at age 20 years, subsequent weight change and breast cancer risk defined by estrogen and progesterone receptor status--the Japan public health center-based prospective study

Int J Cancer. 2011 Sep 1;129(5):1214-24. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25744. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


Few prospective studies have investigated the association between BMI at age 20 years (BMI20y) and breast cancer risk with consideration to estrogen/progesterone receptor status (ER/PR). We evaluated the association between BMI20y and ER/PR-defined breast cancer risk among 41,594 women in the population-based Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study. Anthropometric factors were assessed using self-reported questionnaires. Relative risks (RRs) were estimated by Cox proportional hazards regression models. Through to the end of 2006, 452 breast cancer cases were identified. We observed a statistically significant inverse association between BMI20y and breast cancer incidence [multivariable-adjusted RR for each 5-unit increment 0.75 (95%CI=0.61-0.92)], which was not modified by menopausal or recent BMI status. In contrast, recent BMI and subsequent BMI gain were not associated with increased risk among premenopausal women, but were substantially associated with increased risk among postmenopausal women [corresponding RR(recent BMI)=1.31 (95%CI=1.07-1.59); RR(subsequent BMI gain)=1.32 (95%CI=1.09-1.60)]. In subanalyses by receptor status (∼50% of cases), the observed inverse association of BMI20y with risk was consistent with the result for ER-PR- [0.49 (95%CI=0.27-0.88)], while the observed positive associations of BMI gain with postmenopausal breast cancer risk appeared to be confined to ER+PR+ tumors [corresponding RR(for subsequent BMI gain)=2.24 (95%CI=1.50-3.34)]. Low BMI at age 20 years was substantially associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. In contrast, high recent BMI and subsequent BMI gain from age 20 were associated with increased risk of postmenopausal ER+PR+ tumors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Young Adult


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone