NIH study associates obesity with lower breast cancer risk in young women

Young women with high body fat have a decreased chance of developing breast cancer before menopause, according to scientists at the National Institutes of Health and their collaborators. The finding, published online in the journal JAMA Oncology, may help researchers better understand the role obesity plays in breast cancer risk.

“It is well known that women who gain weight, particularly after menopause, carry an increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer,” said Dale Sandler, Ph.D., co-senior author and head of the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH. “Our finding that breast cancer risk is not increased in obese premenopausal women, and in fact decreases, points to the possibility that different biologic mechanisms are responsible for causing breast cancer in younger women.”

Sandler said since the development of breast cancer is relatively rare before menopause, researchers previously found it difficult to fully evaluate risk factors in a single study. She added that previous studies suggested risk factors for breast cancer in younger women may not be the same as in older women.

To understand breast cancer risk in women who have not gone through menopause, Sandler and other researchers formed the Premenopausal Breast Cancer Collaborative Group. The


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