Favorable changes in serum estrogens and other biologic factors after weight loss in breast cancer survivors who are overweight or obese

Clin Breast Cancer. 2013 Jun;13(3):188-95. doi: 10.1016/j.clbc.2012.12.002. Epub 2013 Jan 29.


Background: Obesity is associated with an increased risk for recurrence and all-cause mortality in breast cancer survivors. Excess adiposity is associated with increased estrogen, insulin, and leptin, and with decreased sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations, which may promote breast cancer progression and recurrence. This study aimed to assess the effects of weight loss on these factors.

Patients and methods: Breast cancer survivors who were overweight or obese (n = 220) and who were enrolled in a weight loss intervention study provided baseline and follow-up blood samples and weight data. Serum estrogens, SHBG, insulin, and leptin were measured at baseline, 6 months, and 18 months.

Results: Weight loss of ≥5% of initial weight decreased leptin and insulin compared with those who did not achieve that amount of weight loss (P < .0001). Weight loss also increased SHBG at 6 and 18 months (P < .01). Postmenopausal women who lost ≥5% of body weight at 6 months had lower estrone (P = .02), estradiol (P = .002), and bioavailable estradiol (P = .001) concentrations than women who did not lose at least 5% of body weight, and weight loss at 18 months was significantly related to a change in serum bioavailable estradiol concentration (P = .02).

Conclusions: Favorable changes in estrogens, SHBG, insulin, and leptin were observed in association with weight loss in these women who were overweight or obese and who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Weight loss appears to have favorable effects on hormonal and biologic factors associated with increased risk for recurrence and poorer prognosis.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00774371.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Estrogens / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / blood
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Weight Loss


  • Biomarkers
  • Estrogens
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00774371