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Second study links BMI gain in adulthood to increased postmenopausal breast cancer risk

-- Beth Gilbert

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 (Last Updated: 04/22/2010)

WEDNESDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) levels may be elevated in women within 17 months prior to breast cancer diagnosis, and an increase in body mass index (BMI) in midlife may lead to a substantially increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, according to the results of two studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 17 to 21 in Washington, D.C.

In one study, Sharon J. Pitteri, Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues evaluated 420 estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients whose blood was drawn within 17 months prior to their cancer diagnosis. In addition, promising biomarkers, including EGFR, were validated in an independent set of 198 cases and controls from the Women's Health Initiative database. They found that levels of EGFR were significantly elevated in the blood of women who developed breast cancer compared to controls. Compared with women with the lowest level, those with the highest levels had a 2.9-fold increased risk of developing breast cancer.

In another study, Laura Y. Sue, of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md., and colleagues evaluated data from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial cohort on 72,007 women, 55 to 74 years of age upon study entry. The analysis included 3,677 cases of postmenopausal breast cancer. Among women who had never used menopausal hormone therapy, BMI gain before and after age 50 was associated with increased postmenopausal breast cancer risk, with BMI gains of 5 kg/m2 or more between age 20 and study entry associated with an almost doubled postmenopausal breast cancer risk.

"Our study suggests that, with respect to postmenopausal breast cancer, healthy weight maintenance throughout adulthood is important and that BMI gain from age 20 to age 50 may play a particularly important role in increasing risk," Sue and colleagues write.

Abstract No. 4815
Abstract No. 4823
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Specialties Hematology & Oncology
OBGYN & Women's Health
Pathology
Family Practice
Internal Medicine

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