Abdominal fat affects breast cancer survival

Health & Fitness Nutrition

Excess abdominal fat can affect breast cancer survival according to the University of North Carolina who followed 1,254 women aged between 20 and 54 diagnosed with invasive breast cancer during 1990 and 1992.

The researches used waist-to-hip ratio measurement that indicates the concentration of abdominal fat. People with a high waist-to-hip ratio typically have an apple shape, with fat concentrated in the abdomen. The waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

The results showed that women with a waist-to-hip ratio greater than 0.80. which is a high concentration of abdominal fat, were 52% more likely to die of breast cancer in the next nine years compared to those with ratios at or below 0.80, after adjusting for the effects of obesity.

The study also shows obesity has a detrimental effect on breast cancer survival, the researchers said. Women with a body mass index greater than 30, which indicates obesity, were 48 percent more likely to die during the nine year study period than women of ideal weight. If the study participants were both overweight (body mass index greater than 25) and had a waist-to-hip ratio above 0.80, their risk of dying increased by 92 percent.

“These results demonstrate that obesity, particularly abdominal fat, decreases a woman’s chance of surviving breast cancer, even if she is pre-menopausal at the time of diagnosis,” said Dr. Marilie Gammon of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a professor of epidemiology in UNC’s School of Public Health. “Our goal is to identify factors that will enhance survival among women with breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight throughout adult life is something women can do to improve their survival.”

The study appears in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

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