Metabolic health linked to increased risk of breast cancer

metabolic healthA collaborative study between the the Department of Epidemiology and at Imperial College London’s School of Public and the Department of Epidemiology and Population , at Albert of Yeshiva University in New York revealed that metabolic plays an important role in developing .

The study was published in the journal of Cancer Research and the results were true for both overweight and normal weight postmenopausal individuals, who were deemed as metabolically unhealthy.

The study consisted of analyzing data from 3,327 nondiabetic women enrolled in the Women’s Initiative. The research team investigated the most common , disability, and poor quality of life in . Within this study pool 497 women received a diagnosis over a mean of 8.2 years of follow-up. Metabolic was defined using two measures: fasting insulin levels and the homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR) method for quantifying insulin resistance.

“Obesity is a significant risk factor for a number of including postmenopausal ,” said Marc J. Gunter, PhD. “Most, but not all, individuals who are obese have metabolic abnormalities including high levels of fasting insulin and insulin resistance, which means that their bodies produce the hormone insulin but do not use it effectively. We found that who were overweight or obese and metabolically unhealthy were at increased risk for , but their metabolically healthy counterparts were not,” Gunter said “We also found that who were lean but metabolically unhealthy were at similarly increased risk for the disease.These results suggest that metabolic evaluated by, for example, insulin resistance, might be a better predictor of risk than being overweight or obese,” said Gunter. “However, given that being overweight or obese significantly increases an individual’s risk of being metabolically unhealthy, it remains important that we all keep a healthy weight throughout life.”

The determined that women who were overweight and insulin-resistant had an 84 percent greater risk of than women who were overweight but not insulin-resistant. The risk was more than double for those women who were overweight and had high fasting insulin levels. In addition, risk was twofold greater for women who were normal weight and had high fasting insulin levels, compared with those who were normal weight and had normal fasting insulin levels.

“Our data suggest that insulin resistance may be a significant factor in the development of , irrespective of whether a woman is overweight or normal weight,” said Gunter. “However, we need to conduct further larger-scale studies, preferably ones that allow us to follow a woman’s metabolic over time, to better understand this and to verify our current findings.”


Risk in Metabolically Healthy but Overweight , Marc J. Gunter, Xianhong Xie, Xiaonan Xue, Geoffrey C. Kabat, Thomas E. Rohan, Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Gloria Y.F. Ho, Judith Wylie-Rosett, Theresa Greco, Herbert Yu, Jeannette Beasley, and Howard D. Strickler, Cancer Research, doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-2317, published 15 January 2015.

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