Obesity and Breast Cancer

Recent Results Cancer Res. 2016:208:43-65. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-42542-9_3.


The relationship between adiposity and breast cancer risk and prognosis is complex, with associations that differ depending on when body size is assessed (e.g., pre- vs. postmenopausal obesity) and when breast cancer is diagnosed (i.e., pre- vs. postmenopausal disease). Further, the impact of obesity on risk differs by tumor hormone receptor status (e.g., estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptor) and, among postmenopausal women, use of exogenous hormones (i.e., hormone replacement therapy (HRT)). In the context of these complexities, this review focuses on associations between childhood and adolescent adiposity, general adiposity, weight changes (i.e., loss and gain), abdominal adiposity, and breast cancer risk and survival. Finally, we discuss potential mechanisms linking adiposity to breast cancer.

Keywords: Adiposity; BMI; Body fatness; Breast cancer incidence; Breast cancer survival; Estrogen receptor; Hormone receptor; Progesterone receptor; Somatotype; Waist circumference; Waist hip ratio; Weight change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Adiposity
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction
  • Weight Gain


  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers, Tumor