According to a study conducted in Denmark, women who are overweight or obese tend to have more advanced breast cancer at the time of diagnosis and also have higher breast cancer mortality. These results were presented at the 2009 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Research into lifestyle factors that influence breast cancer risk or prognosis allows us to make more informed decisions about how to manage our own health. Body weight is a factor that appears to influence not only the risk of developing several types of cancer but also cancer survival.

Body mass index (BMI) is a commonly used (though imperfect) measure of body size. It involves a comparison of weight to height (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared). A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is generally considered healthy, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

The impact of overweight and obesity on the prognosis of early breast cancer was evaluated in a study conducted in Denmark. With information spanning 30 years, the researchers found that heavier women (those with a body mass index greater than 25) tended to have more advanced breast cancer at the time of diagnosis than healthy-weight women. Heavier women also had an increased risk of distant metastasis and an increased risk of dying from breast cancer.

These findings provide additional evidence regarding the importance of achieving and/or maintaining a healthy body weight.

Reference: Ewertz M. Effect of obesity on prognosis after early breast cancer. Presented at the 32nd CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. December 9-13, 2009. San Antonio, TX. Abstract 18.

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