Yet another reason to stay in shape and keep healthy!
It sounds like a new study has found a link between being overweight and cancer recurring and leading to death.
It should also be noted that we're not just saying "obese" here, we're saying "overweight" — this is the first study to find the same trend in those who are overweight, not just obese. Just having higher body mass index increased women’s risk of breast cancer recurrence and death, even if they had state-of-the-art treatment like chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.
Here's what the study author said:
“We found that obesity at diagnosis of breast cancer is associated with about a 30 percent higher risk of recurrence and a nearly 50 percent higher risk of death despite optimal treatment."
This was no small study either. They looked at data from 6,885 patients with stage 1, 2 or 3 breast cancer who were enrolled in three National Cancer Institute–sponsored treatment trials.
They then compared outcomes of obese and overweight women with those of normal-weight participants. The only major differences were weight, as they all had normal heart, kidney, liver, and bone marrow function and were considered healthy overall.
Over eight years of follow-up, about 1 in 4 women saw their cancer come back and 891 died (including 695 women who died from breast cancer). The link between excess weight and cancer popped up more often than not.
Of course, the study wasn't meant to tell us why, but the idea is that people with more fat stores produce more estrogen, which may fuel the growth of hormone receptor positive tumors.
Lifestyle modification could lead to positive long-term outcomes in obese breast cancer patients, but more research needs to be done first.
Just once we'd like to not have to say "more research needs to be done" — we're impatient!
[Image via AP Images.]