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Obesity Could Impact Breast Cancer Treatment

Update Date: Jul 17, 2012 10:35 AM EDT

Obesity can heighten the risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, but now, British researchers are claiming that obesity may now affect treatments for breast cancer patients.

Researchers observed 54 postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer and found that obese breast cancer patients had higher levels of estrogen than women of normal weight.

The findings were published on July 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

However, the researchers stressed that women undergoing breast cancer treatment should not be concerned with the new findings and results may lead to improvements in doctors' ability to select the best treatment for overweight and obese breast cancer patients.

"Our findings are based on laboratory studies, so we would need to carry out clinical trials to tell us whether women with a higher BMI would benefit from changes to their treatment," study senior author Mitch Dowsett, a team leader in the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Center at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said in an institute news release.

Obesity was measured by the body-mass index (BMI). BMI measure is based on height and weight, and a BMI of 30 is considered the threshold for obesity. Women with a BMI of 30 to 35 had about three times higher levels of estrogen in their blood than those with a BMI of less than 25,

"Women with higher BMIs should certainly not be alarmed by this finding or stop taking their treatment," Dowsett said. "[However], our study takes us a step closer to understanding which of the treatment options available might be the most suitable for individual women."

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