Body fat and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: A longitudinal study

Thomas E. Rohan, Moonseong Heo, Lydia Choi, Mridul Datta, Jo L. Freudenheim, Victor Kamensky, Heather M. Ochs-Balcom, Lihong Qi, Cynthia A. Thomson, Mara Z. Vitolins, Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Geoffrey C. Kabat

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37 Scopus citations


Associations between anthropometric indices of obesity and breast cancer risk may fail to capture the true relationship between excess body fat and risk. We used dual-energy-X-ray-absorptiometry- (DXA-) derived measures of body fat obtained in the Women's Health Initiative to examine the association between body fat and breast cancer risk; we compared these risk estimates with those for conventional anthropometric measurements. The study included 10,960 postmenopausal women aged 50-79 years at recruitment, with baseline DXA measurements and no history of breast cancer. During followup (median: 12.9 years), 503 incident breast cancer cases were diagnosed. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models. All baseline DXA-derived body fat measures showed strong positive associations with breast cancer risk. The multivariable-adjusted HR for the uppermost quintile level (versus lowest) ranged from 1.53 (95% CI 1.14-2.07) for fat mass of the right leg to 2.05 (1.50-2.79) for fat mass of the trunk. Anthropometric indices (categorized by quintiles) of obesity (BMI (1.97, 1.45-2.68), waist circumference (1.97, 1.46-2.65), and waist: hip ratio (1.91, 1.41-2.58)) were all strongly, positively associated with risk and did not differ from DXA-derived measures in prediction of risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number754815
JournalJournal of Cancer Epidemiology
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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    Rohan, T. E., Heo, M., Choi, L., Datta, M., Freudenheim, J. L., Kamensky, V., Ochs-Balcom, H. M., Qi, L., Thomson, C. A., Vitolins, M. Z., Wassertheil-Smoller, S., & Kabat, G. C. (2013). Body fat and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: A longitudinal study. Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, 2013, [754815].