Excess weight is not a good factor in patients with breast cancer and adversely affects the long term prognosis in the condition, a report published in the January 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology has said.
These findings from a Chinese study are identical to conclusions that were arrived at in several Western studies and ponit to the fact that obesity seems to be a hindrance to complete recovery from breast cancer. Study co-author Dr. Xiao-Ou Shu, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee said that prevention of obesity should be a high priority not only in the general population, but also in breast cancer. The study tracked 1,455 Chinese women for 5 years after they were diagnosed with the disease. It was found that most women survived for five years, but overweight women had a poor chance of survival. 80 percent of overweight women had survived the five year period, while 86.5 percent of the lean women had managed to live for 5 years after the diagnosis. It is not clear why excess weight seems to hinder the chances of survival. One theory is that the extra body fat boosts the level of female sex hormones like estrogen, thus triggering the growth of breast tumors. The researchers conclude by saying that they 'support the idea that interventions directed at weight control may have a substantial effect on not only breast cancer incidence but also on breast cancer survival.' Shu said that while more research was needed to help women with breast cancer control their weight, it was apparent that moderate exercise and eating vegetables and whole grains conferred some benefits.