BMI increases breast cancer risk regardless of body shape
A larger waist circumference increases the risk for postmenopausal breast cancer - but not beyond its contribution to BMI. This is the outcome of a study of predominantly white women published by the American Cancer Society in "Cancer Causes & Control".
Abdominal obesity is associated with a higher risk for several diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and other cancers. Accordingly, having an "apple-shaped" body, with fat concentrated in the centre of the body, is considered riskier than having a "pear-shaped" body, with fat concentrated on the hips, buttocks and thighs.
To examine this theory, researchers analysed data from 28,965 participants in the Cancer Prevention Study II. During an average 11.58 years of follow-up, invasive breast cancer was diagnosed in 1,088 women. This revealed a statistically significant association between waist circumference and the risk of postmenopausal breast carcinomas. But when the data was adjusted for BMI, the association disappeared.
Thus, previous studies, which had indicated that body shape was an independent risk factor for breast cancer, could not be confirmed. "Most prior studies on this issue looked at BMI or at waist circumference, but had not looked at them together," first author Mia Gaudet commented on the new results. "The message is that if you have a high BMI, regardless of whether you are pear or apple shaped, you are at higher risk of breast cancer."
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