Breast Cancer risk 'increased more by weight than alcohol or cigarettes'

20 July 2011

Research published today in the British Journal of Cancer has found that overweight post-menopausal women are more likely to develop breast cancer.

The study, conducted at the University of Oxford and funded by Cancer Research UK, performed a reanalysis of 6,300 records of menopausal women from 13 previous studies and could help improve rates of early cancer diagnosis.

It found that a woman's body mass index was the biggest factor likely to affect the production of sex hormones associated with some types of breast cancer and in turn increasing the need for possible radiotherapy.

Oestrogen was the hormone with the largest recorded increase in overweight women. Alcohol and tobacco were the next major factors seeming to affect hormone levels conducive to breast cancer.

"Changes in hormone levels might explain the association of established risk factors such as obesity with breast cancer," said one of the study's co-authors, Dr Gillian Reeves.

This came as the National Institute of Clinical Excellence released guidelines which were not able to recommend the drug eribulin (also known as Halaven) made by Eisai as a suitable treatment for locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1 Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group, "Circulating sex hormones and breast cancer risk factors in postmenopausal women: reanalysis of 13 studies". British Journal of Cancer. Wednesday July 20th 2011.

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