Body mass index and breast cancer risk in Japan: a pooled analysis of eight population-based cohort studies

Ann Oncol. 2014 Feb;25(2):519-24. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdt542. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


Background: A positive association between body mass index (BMI) and breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women has been reported, and a weak inverse association has been suggested among premenopausal women from studies in the Western population. The effects of BMI on breast cancer have remained unclear among the Asian population, especially in premenopausal women.

Methods: We assessed the associations between BMI and breast cancer incidence by a pooled analysis from eight representative large-scale cohort studies in Japan. Cancer incidence was mainly confirmed through regional population-based cancer registries and/or through active patient notification from major local hospitals. Breast cancer was defined as code C50 according to ICD10. Pooled estimates of the hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence interval (CIs) for breast cancer were calculated using random-effects models.

Results: Analytic subjects were 183 940 women, 1783 of whom had breast cancer during 2 194 211 person-years of follow-up. A positive association between BMI and the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer was observed (trend P<0.001). The HRs for premenopausal breast cancer were 1.05 (95% CI 0.56-1.99), 1.07 (95% CI 0.76-1.52), 0.91 (95% CI 0.64-1.30), 1.15 (95% CI 0.76-1.73), 1.45 (95% CI 0.71-2.94), and 2.25 (95% CI 1.10-4.60), respectively, in BMIs of <19, 19 to <21, 21 to <23, 25 to <27, 27 to <30, and ≥30 kg/m2. These results were not substantially altered after excluding the patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the first 2 years of follow-up.

Conclusions: The increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer among women with higher BMIs was confirmed in Japanese. A borderline-significant positive association between BMI and premenopausal breast cancer was observed, suggesting that body mass in Asian women might have opposite effects on breast cancer compared with Western women.

Keywords: body mass index; breast cancer; cohort study; pooled analysis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Overweight / complications*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Postmenopause
  • Premenopause
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors