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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Breast Cancer Research 1/2018

Body mass index at age 18 years and recent body mass index in relation to risk of breast cancer overall and ER/PR/HER2-defined subtypes in white women and African-American women: a pooled analysis

Breast Cancer Research > Ausgabe 1/2018
Huiyan Ma, Giske Ursin, Xinxin Xu, Eunjung Lee, Kayo Togawa, Kathleen E. Malone, Polly A. Marchbanks, Jill A. McDonald, Michael S. Simon, Suzanne G. Folger, Yani Lu, Jane Sullivan-Halley, Dennis M. Deapen, Michael F. Press, Leslie Bernstein



Although it has been well-documented that obesity is associated with decreased risk of premenopausal breast cancer and increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, it is unclear whether these associations differ among breast cancer subtypes defined by the tumor protein expression status of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).


We evaluated the associations of body mass index (BMI) at age 18 years and recent BMI in relation to risk of breast cancer overall and ER/PR/HER2-defined subtypes, in 6320 women (3934 case-patient participants, 2386 control participants) aged 35–64 years, who participated in one of three population-based case-control studies. We estimated multivariable-adjusted odd ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using polychotomous unconditional logistic regression methods for case-control comparisons in premenopausal women and postmenopausal women.


BMI at age 18 years was inversely associated with risk of breast cancer, particularly among premenopausal women (≥ 25 vs. < 20 kg/m2, OR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.53–0.96; per 5 kg/m2 increase, OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.73–0.95). This inverse association did not differ across ER/PR/HER2-defined subtypes or by race (white women, African-American women). Recent BMI was not associated with risk of premenopausal breast cancer after adjustment for BMI at age 18 years; nevertheless, the analysis for the joint effects of BMI at age 18 years and recent BMI showed that premenopausal women in the highest categories of the two BMI measures (≥ 25 kg/m2 at age 18 years and ≥ 30 kg/m2 for recent BMI) had 46% lower risk of breast cancer than premenopausal women in the lowest categories of the two BMI measures (< 20 kg/m2 at age 18 years and < 25 kg/m2 for recent BMI; OR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.38–0.78). Neither measure of BMI was statistically significantly associated with risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.


Our findings indicate that high BMI near the end of adolescence decreases risk of all ER/PR/HER2-defined subtypes of premenopausal breast cancer and also suggest that this benefit could be maximized among premenopausal women who consistently have high BMI during their premenopausal years.
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