Weight Gain After Breast Cancer Deadly
Study: Each 11-Pound Gain Increases Breast Cancer Death Risk 14%
WebMD News Archive
Insulin-Breast Cancer Death Link
In a second study, women with invasive breast cancer and high blood levels
of C-peptide, a marker of insulin secretion, were more likely to die than women
with lower C-peptide levels, according to Melinda Irwin, PhD, MPH, an assistant
professor at the Yale University School of Public Health in New Haven,
"Women who are heavier tend to have higher C-peptide or higher insulin
levels," she tells WebMD.
Her team followed 689 women enrolled in a National Cancer Institute
initiative study known as the HEAL (Health, Eating, Activity and Lifestyle)
study. All had breast cancer, but not type 2 diabetes. They were all
postmenopausal, either naturally or due to chemotherapy.
Irwin's team monitored health status periodically, from six months after the
diagnosis until 2004 or until the patient's death, taking blood samples to
measure their C-peptide levels.
The younger the women were, the more dramatic the risk of death linked with
high C-peptide, she says. Women with high C-peptide levels who were ages 40 to
55 when they provided the blood samples had a nearly five times increased risk
of breast cancer death compared with the same ages of women who had lower
Perspective on Weight Gain and Breast Cancer
The new findings echo previous research that has found a link not only
between excess weight and death in breast cancer patients but also excess
weight and breast cancer recurrence.
Excess weight can also increase risk of getting breast cancer, other
research has found, at least for postmenopausal women. "In the
postmenopausal period, adipose tissue is the primary source of estrogen,"
Nichols says. "So the greater BMI in postmenopausal women may increase
exposure to circulating estrogen [thus "feeding" the cancer]."
The message is clear, Irwin says. Paying attention to diet and exercise and
trying to maintain a healthy weight is crucial.