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1.  Family history of breast cancer and all-cause mortality after breast cancer diagnosis in the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
Although having a family history of breast cancer is a well established breast cancer risk factor, it is not known whether it influences mortality after breast cancer diagnosis.
Subjects were 4,153 women with first primary incident invasive breast cancer diagnosed between 1991 and 2000, and enrolled in the Breast Cancer Family Registry through population-based sampling in Northern California, USA; Ontario, Canada; and Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. Cases were oversampled for younger age at diagnosis and/or family history of breast cancer. Carriers of germline mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 were excluded. Cases and their relatives completed structured questionnaires assessing breast cancer risk factors and family history of cancer. Cases were followed for a median of 6.5 years, during which 725 deaths occurred. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to evaluate associations between family history of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis and risk of all-cause mortality after breast cancer diagnosis, adjusting for established prognostic factors.
The hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were 0.98 (95% confidence interval [CI]=0.84-1.15) for having at least one first- or second-degree relative with breast cancer, and 0.85 (95% CI=0.70-1.02) for having at least one first-degree relative with breast cancer, compared with having no such family history. Estimates did not vary appreciably when stratified by case or tumor characteristics.
Family history of breast cancer is not associated with all-cause mortality after breast cancer diagnosis for women without a known germline mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. Therefore, clinical management should not depend on family history of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2728159  PMID: 19034644
breast cancer; survival; mortality; family history
2.  Risk Prediction for Breast, Endometrial, and Ovarian Cancer in White Women Aged 50 y or Older: Derivation and Validation from Population-Based Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001492.
Ruth Pfeiffer and colleagues describe models to calculate absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers for white, non-Hispanic women over 50 years old using easily obtainable risk factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers share some hormonal and epidemiologic risk factors. While several models predict absolute risk of breast cancer, there are few models for ovarian cancer in the general population, and none for endometrial cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50+ y from two large population-based cohorts (the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial [PLCO] and the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study [NIH-AARP]), we estimated relative and attributable risks and combined them with age-specific US-population incidence and competing mortality rates. All models included parity. The breast cancer model additionally included estrogen and progestin menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) use, other MHT use, age at first live birth, menopausal status, age at menopause, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, benign breast disease/biopsies, alcohol consumption, and body mass index (BMI); the endometrial model included menopausal status, age at menopause, BMI, smoking, oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and an interaction term between BMI and MHT use; the ovarian model included oral contraceptive use, MHT use, and family history or breast or ovarian cancer. In independent validation data (Nurses' Health Study cohort) the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated; expected to observed cancer ratios were 1.00 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.96–1.04) for breast cancer and 1.08 (95% CI: 0.97–1.19) for ovarian cancer. The number of endometrial cancers was significantly overestimated, expected/observed = 1.20 (95% CI: 1.11–1.29). The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUCs; discriminatory power) were 0.58 (95% CI: 0.57–0.59), 0.59 (95% CI: 0.56–0.63), and 0.68 (95% CI: 0.66–0.70) for the breast, ovarian, and endometrial models, respectively.
These models predict absolute risks for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers from easily obtainable risk factors and may assist in clinical decision-making. Limitations are the modest discriminatory ability of the breast and ovarian models and that these models may not generalize to women of other races.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In 2008, just three types of cancer accounted for 10% of global cancer-related deaths. That year, about 460,000 women died from breast cancer (the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women and the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death). Another 140,000 women died from ovarian cancer, and 74,000 died from endometrial (womb) cancer (the 14th and 20th most common causes of cancer-related death, respectively). Although these three cancers originate in different tissues, they nevertheless share many risk factors. For example, current age, age at menarche (first period), and parity (the number of children a woman has had) are all strongly associated with breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer risk. Because these cancers share many hormonal and epidemiological risk factors, a woman with a high breast cancer risk is also likely to have an above-average risk of developing ovarian or endometrial cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several statistical models (for example, the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool) have been developed that estimate a woman's absolute risk (probability) of developing breast cancer over the next few years or over her lifetime. Absolute risk prediction models are useful in the design of cancer prevention trials and can also help women make informed decisions about cancer prevention and treatment options. For example, a woman at high risk of breast cancer might decide to take tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention, but ideally she needs to know her absolute endometrial cancer risk before doing so because tamoxifen increases the risk of this cancer. Similarly, knowledge of her ovarian cancer risk might influence a woman's decision regarding prophylactic removal of her ovaries to reduce her breast cancer risk. There are few absolute risk prediction models for ovarian cancer, and none for endometrial cancer, so here the researchers develop models to predict the risk of these cancers and of breast cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Absolute risk prediction models are constructed by combining estimates for risk factors from cohorts with population-based incidence rates from cancer registries. Models are validated in an independent cohort by testing their ability to identify people with the disease in an independent cohort and their ability to predict the observed numbers of incident cases. The researchers used data on white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older that were collected during two large prospective US cohort studies of cancer screening and of diet and health, and US cancer incidence and mortality rates provided by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program to build their models. The models all included parity as a risk factor, as well as other factors. The model for endometrial cancer, for example, also included menopausal status, age at menopause, body mass index (an indicator of the amount of body fat), oral contraceptive use, menopausal hormone therapy use, and an interaction term between menopausal hormone therapy use and body mass index. Individual women's risk for endometrial cancer calculated using this model ranged from 1.22% to 17.8% over the next 20 years depending on their exposure to various risk factors. Validation of the models using data from the US Nurses' Health Study indicated that the endometrial cancer model overestimated the risk of endometrial cancer but that the breast and ovarian cancer models were well calibrated—the predicted and observed risks for these cancers in the validation cohort agreed closely. Finally, the discriminatory power of the models (a measure of how well a model separates people who have a disease from people who do not have the disease) was modest for the breast and ovarian cancer models but somewhat better for the endometrial cancer model.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer can all be predicted using information on known risk factors for these cancers that is easily obtainable. Because these models were constructed and validated using data from white, non-Hispanic women aged 50 years or older, they may not accurately predict absolute risk for these cancers for women of other races or ethnicities. Moreover, the modest discriminatory power of the breast and ovarian cancer models means they cannot be used to decide which women should be routinely screened for these cancers. Importantly, however, these well-calibrated models should provide realistic information about an individual's risk of developing breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer that can be used in clinical decision-making and that may assist in the identification of potential participants for research studies.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Lars Holmberg and Andrew Vickers
The US National Cancer Institute provides comprehensive information about cancer (in English and Spanish), including detailed information about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer;
Information on the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, and on the prospective cohort study of screening and the diet and health study that provided the data used to build the models is also available on the NCI site
Cancer Research UK, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about cancer, including detailed information on breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information and personal stories about breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer; the not-for-profit organization Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about dealing with breast cancer and ovarian cancer
PMCID: PMC3728034  PMID: 23935463
3.  Recreational physical activity, body mass index and survival in women with colorectal cancer 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2012;23(12):1939-1948.
Background and purpose
Previous studies have shown that physical inactivity and obesity are risk factors for the development of colorectal cancer. However, controversy exists regarding the influence of these factors on survival in colorectal cancer patients. We evaluated the impact of recreational physical activity and body mass index (BMI) before and after colorectal cancer diagnosis on disease-specific mortality and all-cause mortality.
Patients and Methods
This prospective cohort study included 1339 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative study who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer subsequent to study enrolment. BMI and recreational physical activity were measured before cancer diagnosis at study entry (pre-diagnostic) and after diagnosis at study follow-up interviews (post-diagnostic). We used Cox regression to estimate the association between pre- and post-diagnostic exposures and survival after colorectal cancer diagnosis.
Among women diagnosed with colorectal cancer, 265 (13%) deaths occurred during a median study follow-up of 11.9 years, of which 171 (65%) were attributed to colorectal cancer. Compared with women reporting no pre-diagnostic recreational physical activity, those reporting activity levels of ≥18 MET-hours/week had significantly lower colorectal cancer-specific mortality (hazard ratio (HR)=0.68; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.41–1.13) and all-cause mortality (HR=0.63; 95% CI: 0.42–0.96). Similar inverse associations were seen for post-diagnostic recreational physical activity. Neither pre- nor post-diagnostic BMI were associated with mortality after colorectal cancer diagnosis.
Recreational physical activity before and after CR colorectal cancer C diagnosis, but not BMI, is associated with more favourable survival.
PMCID: PMC3499635  PMID: 23053793
Physical activity; body mass index; colorectal cancer; survival; postmenopausal
4.  Influence of Prediagnostic Recreational Physical Activity on Survival from Breast Cancer 
Recreational physical activity (RPA) is associated with a reduced risk of developing breast cancer, but there is limited research on whether prediagnostic RPA influences survival after breast cancer diagnosis.
We evaluated the association between prediagnostic RPA and risk of death in 1,508 women with a first breast cancer diagnosis between 1996 and 1997 in the population-based Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. Five-year mortality through the end of 2002 was assessed using the National Death Index (N=196). An in-person interview was completed shortly after diagnosis to obtain information on lifetime RPA, which was expressed as metabolic equivalent task hours per week (MET-h/wk).
A lower risk of all-cause death was observed for women who engaged in an average of ≥9 MET-h/wk of RPA from menarche to diagnosis compared with women who did not exercise (age and BMI adjusted hazard ratio [HR]=0.57; 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.39–0.83), an association that was similar when evaluated according to menopausal status. Decreased all-cause mortality was found for women with any moderate intensity lifetime RPA (>0 MET-h/wk) (HR=0.62; 95% CI=0.46-0.84) and breast cancer-specific mortality (HR=0.64; 95% CI=0.43-0.93) risk than women who engaged in no moderate RPA. Among postmenopausal women, RPA that took place after menopause resulted in a decrease in overall mortality, whereas no association was observed for RPA which took place prior to menopause (>0 MET-h/wk of RPA vs. no RPA: HR=0.61; 95% CI=0.39-0.94; and HR=1.00; 95% CI=0.65-1.54, respectively).
This study provides support that RPA prior to breast cancer diagnosis improves survival.
PMCID: PMC3228872  PMID: 21946863
Physical activity; exercise; breast cancer; survival; prevention; epidemiology
5.  Body mass index, physical activity, and survival after endometrial cancer diagnosis: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative 
Gynecologic oncology  2012;128(2):181-186.
While low physical activity and high body mass index (BMI) have been associated with higher endometrial cancer incidence, no previous studies have evaluated the association between physical activity and survival after endometrial cancer diagnosis, and studies on BMI and survival have not been performed in a prospective cohort.
We examined pre-diagnosis BMI and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity in relation to overall and disease-specific survival among 983 postmenopausal women who were diagnosed with endometrial cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study and Clinical Trials.
Over a median 5.2 (max 14.1) years from diagnosis to death or end of follow-up, 163 total deaths were observed, 66 of which were due to endometrial cancer. We observed a higher all-cause mortality hazard ratio (HR)=1.85 (95% CI 1.19–2.88) comparing women with a BMI ≥35 kg/m2 to women with BMI <25 kg/m2. For endometrial cancer-specific mortality the HR=2.23 (95% CI 1.09–4.54) comparing extreme BMI categories. To examine histologic subtypes we analyzed type I endometrial tumors separately and found a HR=1.20 (95% CI 1.07–1.35) associated with all-cause mortality for each 5-unit change in BMI. Moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity was not associated with all-cause or endometrial cancer-specific mortality.
Pre-diagnosis BMI, but not physical activity, was associated with survival among women with endometrial cancer. Future studies should investigate mechanisms and timing of BMI onset to better understand the burden of disease attributable to BMI.
PMCID: PMC3552067  PMID: 23127972
endometrial carcinoma; survivorship; body mass index; physical activity
6.  Long-term and recent recreational physical activity and survival after breast cancer: the California Teachers Study 
Long-term physical activity is associated with lower breast cancer risk. Little information exists on its association with subsequent survival.
California Teachers Study cohort members provided information in 1995–1996 on long-term (high school through age 54 years) and recent (past 3 years) participation in moderate and strenuous recreational physical activities. The 3,539 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer after cohort entry and through December 31, 2004, were followed through December 31, 2005. Of these, 460 women died, 221 from breast cancer. Moderate and strenuous physical activities were combined into low (≤0.50 hr/wk/yr of any activity), intermediate (0.51–3.0 hr/wk/yr of moderate or strenuous activity but no activity >3.0 hr/wk/yr) or high activity (>3.0 hr/wk/yr of either activity type). Multivariable relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for mortality were estimated using Cox proportional hazards methods, adjusting for race/ethnicity, estrogen receptor status, disease stage, and baseline information on comorbidities, body mass index, and caloric intake.
Women with high or intermediate levels of long-term physical activity had lower risk of breast cancer death (RR=0.53, 95% CI=0.35–0.80; and RR=0.65, 95% CI=0.45–0.93, respectively) than women with low activity levels. These associations were consistent across estrogen receptor status and disease stage, but confined to overweight women. Deaths due to causes other than breast cancer were related only to recent activity.
Consistent long-term participation in physical activity before breast cancer diagnosis may lower risk of breast cancer death, providing further justification for public health strategies to increase physical activity throughout the lifespan.
PMCID: PMC2783945  PMID: 19843680
7.  Physical Activity and Survival in Postmenopausal Women with Breast Cancer: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative 
Although studies have shown that physically active breast cancer survivors have lower all-cause mortality, the association between change in physical activity from before to after diagnosis and mortality is not clear. We examined associations among pre- and postdiagnosis physical activity, change in pre- to postdiagnosis physical activity, and all-cause and breast cancer–specific mortality in post-menopausal women. A longitudinal study of 4,643 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer after entry into the Women’s Health Initiative study of postmenopausal women. Physical activity from recreation and walking was determined at baseline (prediagnosis) and after diagnosis (assessed at the 3 or 6 years post-baseline visit). Women participating in 9 MET-h/wk or more (~3 h/wk of fast walking) of physical activity before diagnosis had a lower all-cause mortality (HR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.44–0.87; P = 0.01) compared with inactive women in multivariable adjusted analyses. Women participating in ≥9 or more MET-h/wk of physical activity after diagnosis had lower breast cancer mortality (HR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.35–0.99; P = 0.049) and lower all-cause mortality (HR = 0.54; 95% CI, 0.38–0.79; P < 0.01). Women who increased or maintained physical activity of 9 or more MET-h/wk after diagnosis had lower all-cause mortality (HR = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.46–0.96) even if they were inactive before diagnosis. High levels of physical activity may improve survival in postmenopausal women with breast cancer, even among those reporting low physical activity prior to diagnosis. Women diagnosed with breast cancer should be encouraged to initiate and maintain a program of physical activity.
PMCID: PMC3123895  PMID: 21464032
8.  Body mass index and survival after breast cancer diagnosis in Japanese women 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:149.
Body mass index (BMI) may be an important factor affecting breast cancer outcome. Studies conducted mainly in Western countries have reported a relationship between higher BMI and a higher risk of all-cause death or breast cancer-specific death among women with breast cancer, but only a few studies have been reported in Japan so far. In the present prospective study, we investigated the associations between BMI and the risk of all-cause and breast cancer-specific death among breast cancer patients overall and by menopausal status and hormone receptor status.
The study included 653 breast cancer patients admitted to a single hospital in Japan, between 1997 and 2005. BMI was assessed using a self-administered questionnaire. The patients were completely followed up until December, 2008. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated according to quartile points of BMI categories, respectively: <21.2, ≥21.2 to <23.3 (reference), ≥23.3 to <25.8 and ≥25.8 kg/m2.
During the follow-up period, 136 all-cause and 108 breast cancer-specific deaths were observed. After adjustment for clinical and confounding factors, higher BMI was associated with an increased risk of all-cause death (HR = 2.61; 95% CI: 1.01–6.78 for BMI ≥25.8 vs. ≥21.2 to <23.3 kg/m2) among premenopausal patients. According to hormonal receptor status, BMI ≥25.8 kg/m2 was associated with breast cancer-specific death (HR = 4.95; 95% CI: 1.05–23.35) and BMI <21.2 kg/m2 was associated with all-cause (HR = 2.91; 95% CI: 1.09–7.77) and breast cancer-specific death (HR = 7.23; 95% CI: 1.57–33.34) among patients with ER + or PgR + tumors. Analysis by hormonal receptor status also showed a positive association between BMI and mortality risk among patients with ER + or PgR + tumors and with BMI ≥21.2 kg/m2 (p for trend: 0.020 and 0.031 for all-cause and breast cancer-specific death, respectively).
Our results suggest that both higher BMI and lower BMI are associated with an increased risk of mortality, especially among premenopausal patients or among patients with hormonal receptor positive tumors. Breast cancer patients should be informed of the potential importance of maintaining an appropriate body weight after they have been diagnosed.
PMCID: PMC3444378  PMID: 22510365
Breast cancer; Survival; Body mass index; Hormone receptor; Menopausal status
9.  Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(11):e1001335.
Analyzing data from over 650,000 individuals, Dr. Steven Moore and colleagues report that greater amounts of leisure-time physical activity were associated with higher life expectancy across a wide range of activity levels and body mass index groups.
Leisure time physical activity reduces the risk of premature mortality, but the years of life expectancy gained at different levels remains unclear. Our objective was to determine the years of life gained after age 40 associated with various levels of physical activity, both overall and according to body mass index (BMI) groups, in a large pooled analysis.
Methods and Findings
We examined the association of leisure time physical activity with mortality during follow-up in pooled data from six prospective cohort studies in the National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium, comprising 654,827 individuals, 21–90 y of age. Physical activity was categorized by metabolic equivalent hours per week (MET-h/wk). Life expectancies and years of life gained/lost were calculated using direct adjusted survival curves (for participants 40+ years of age), with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) derived by bootstrap. The study includes a median 10 y of follow-up and 82,465 deaths. A physical activity level of 0.1–3.74 MET-h/wk, equivalent to brisk walking for up to 75 min/wk, was associated with a gain of 1.8 (95% CI: 1.6–2.0) y in life expectancy relative to no leisure time activity (0 MET-h/wk). Higher levels of physical activity were associated with greater gains in life expectancy, with a gain of 4.5 (95% CI: 4.3–4.7) y at the highest level (22.5+ MET-h/wk, equivalent to brisk walking for 450+ min/wk). Substantial gains were also observed in each BMI group. In joint analyses, being active (7.5+ MET-h/wk) and normal weight (BMI 18.5–24.9) was associated with a gain of 7.2 (95% CI: 6.5–7.9) y of life compared to being inactive (0 MET-h/wk) and obese (BMI 35.0+). A limitation was that physical activity and BMI were ascertained by self report.
More leisure time physical activity was associated with longer life expectancy across a range of activity levels and BMI groups.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Regular physical activity is essential for human health. It helps to maintain a healthy body weight and prevents or delays heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. It also makes people feel better and increases life expectancy. The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every week. Moderate-intensity physical activities (for example, brisk walking and gardening) require a moderate amount of effort and noticeably increase the heart rate; vigorous-intensity physical activities (for example, running or fast swimming) require a large amount of effort and cause rapid breathing and a substantial heart rate increase. Worryingly, people in both developed and developing countries are becoming increasingly physically inactive. People are sitting at desks all day instead of doing manual labor; they are driving to work in cars instead of walking or cycling; and they are participating in fewer leisure time physical activities.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although various studies suggest that physical activity increases life expectancy, few have quantified the years of life gained at distinct levels of physical activity. Moreover, the difference in life expectancy between active, overweight individuals and inactive, normal weight individuals has not been quantified. Thus, it is hard to develop a simple public health message to maximize the population benefits of physical activity. In this pooled prospective cohort analysis, the researchers determine the association between levels of leisure time physical activities, such as recreational walking, and years of life gained after age 40, both overall and within body mass index (BMI) groups. A pooled prospective cohort analysis analyzes the combined data from multiple studies that have followed groups of people to investigate associations between baseline characteristics and outcomes such as death. BMI is a ratio of weight to height, calculated by dividing a person's weight by their height squared; normal weight is defined as a BMI of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2, obesity (excessive body fat) is defined as a BMI of more than 30 kg/m2.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pooled self-reported data on leisure time physical activities and BMIs from nearly 650,000 individuals over the age of 40 years enrolled in one Swedish and five US prospective cohort studies, most of which were investigating associations between lifestyle factors and disease risk. They used these and other data to calculate the gain in life expectancy associated with specific levels of physical activity. A physical activity level equivalent to brisk walking for up to 75 minutes per week was associated with a gain of 1.8 years in life expectancy relative to no leisure time activity. Being active—having a physical activity level at or above the WHO-recommended minimum of 150 minutes of brisk walking per week—was associated with an overall gain of life expectancy of 3.4–4.5 years. Gains in life expectancy were seen also for black individuals and former smokers, groups for whom relatively few data had been previously available. The physical activity and life expectancy association was also evident at all BMI levels. Being active and normal weight was associated with a gain of 7.2 years of life compared to being inactive and class II+ obese (having a BMI of more than 35.0 kg/m2). However, being inactive but normal weight was associated with 3.1 fewer years of life compared to being active but class I obese (having a BMI of 30–34.9 kg/m2).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that participation in leisure time physical activity, even below the recommended level, is associated with a reduced risk of mortality compared to participation in no leisure time physical activity. This result may help convince currently inactive people that a modest physical activity program may have health benefits, even if it does not result in weight loss. The findings also suggest that physical activity at recommended levels or higher may increase longevity further, and that a lack of leisure time physical activity may markedly reduce life expectancy when combined with obesity. Although the accuracy and generalizability of these findings may be limited by certain aspects of the study's design (for example, some study participants may have overestimated their leisure time physical activity), these findings reinforce the public health message that both a physically active lifestyle and a normal body weight are important for increasing longevity.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information about physical activity and health (in several languages); its 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health is available in several languages
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on physical activity for different age groups; its Physical Activity for Everyone webpages include guidelines, instructional videos, and personal success stories
The UK National Health Service information source NHS Choices also explains the benefits of regular physical activity and includes physical activity guidelines, tips for exercising, and some personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about exercise and physical fitness (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3491006  PMID: 23139642
10.  Obesity and breast cancer survival in ethnically diverse postmenopausal women: The Multiethnic Cohort Study 
Breast cancer survival has been found to be lower in obese women, but few studies have evaluated ethnic variations in this association. This study examined all-cause and breast cancer-specific survival by body mass index (BMI) in the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) study for African American, Native Hawaiian, Japanese American, Latino, and Caucasian women. Female MEC participants free of breast cancer, aged ≥ 50 years at cohort entry, and diagnosed with primary invasive breast cancer during follow-up were included in the analyses (n = 3,842). Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate the effect of pre-diagnostic adult BMI (<22.5, 22.5–24.9, 25.0–29.9, ≥30 kg/m2) on the risk of mortality. Mean age at diagnosis was 68.8 years (range 50–89 years). During a mean follow-up of 6.2 ± 3.8 years after diagnosis, there were 804 deaths that included 376 breast cancer-specific deaths. After adjustment for breast cancer characteristics, including hormone receptor status, stage at diagnosis, and treatment, obese women had a higher risk of all-cause [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.54; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.23, 1.91] and breast cancer-specific (HR = 1.45; 95% CI: 1.05, 2.00) mortality compared to women with high-normal BMI; however, being overweight did not affect survival. There was no evidence of ethnic differences in the BMI effect on all-cause (Pinteraction = 0.87) or breast cancer-specific (Pinteraction = 0.63) mortality. Our findings are consistent with the literature that maintaining moderate weight throughout adult life may be beneficial for breast cancer survival in women and this appears to hold for all ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC3164157  PMID: 21499688
Breast carcinoma; ethnicity; obesity; survival; prognosis
11.  Screening Mammography for Women Aged 40 to 49 Years at Average Risk for Breast Cancer 
Executive Summary
The aim of this review was to determine the effectiveness of screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years at average risk for breast cancer.
Clinical Need
The effectiveness of screening mammography in women aged over 50 years has been established, yet the issue of screening in women aged 40 to 49 years is still unsettled. The Canadian Task Force of Preventive Services, which sets guidelines for screening mammography for all provinces, supports neither the inclusion nor the exclusion of this screening procedure for 40- to 49-year-old women from the periodic health examination. In addition to this, 2 separate reviews, one conducted in Quebec in 2005 and the other in Alberta in 2000, each concluded that there is an absence of convincing evidence on the effectiveness of screening mammography for women in this age group who are at average risk for breast cancer.
In the United States, there is disagreement among organizations on whether population-based mammography should begin at the age of 40 or 50 years. The National Institutes of Health, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend against screening women in their 40s, whereas the United States Preventive Services Task Force, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend screening mammograms for women aged 40 to 49 years. Furthermore, in comparing screening guidelines between Canada and the United States, it is also important to recognize that “standard care” within a socialized medical system such as Canada’s differs from that of the United States. The National Breast Screening Study (NBSS-1), a randomized screening trial conducted in multiple centres across Canada, has shown there is no benefit in mortality from breast cancer from annual mammograms in women randomized between the ages of 40 and 49, relative to standard care (i.e. physical exam and teaching of breast-self examination on entry to the study, with usual community care thereafter).
At present, organized screening programs in Canada systematically screen women starting at 50 years of age, although with a physician’s referral, a screening mammogram is an insured service in Ontario for women under 50 years of age.
International estimates of the epidemiology of breast cancer show that the incidence of breast cancer is increasing for all ages combined, whereas mortality is decreasing, though at a slower rate. These decreasing mortality rates may be attributed to screening and advances in breast cancer therapy over time. Decreases in mortality attributable to screening may be a result of the earlier detection and treatment of invasive cancers, in addition to the increased detection of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), of which certain subpathologies are less lethal. Evidence from the SEER cancer registry in the United States indicates that the age-adjusted incidence of DCIS has increased almost 10-fold over a 20-year period (from 2.7 to 25 per 100,000).
The incidence of breast cancer is lower in women aged 40 to 49 years than in women aged 50 to 69 years (about 140 per 100,000 versus 500 per 100,000 women, respectively), as is the sensitivity (about 75% versus 85% for women aged under and over 50, respectively) and specificity of mammography (about 80% versus 90% for women aged under and over 50, respectively). The increased density of breast tissue in younger women is mainly responsible for the lower accuracy of this procedure in this age group. In addition, as the proportion of breast cancers that occur before the age of 50 are more likely to be associated with genetic predisposition as compared with those diagnosed in women after the age of 50, mammography may not be an optimal screening method for younger women.
Treatment options vary with the stage of disease (based on tumor size, involvement of surrounding tissue, and number of affected axillary lymph nodes) and its pathology, and may include a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy.
Surgery is the first-line intervention for biopsy confirmed tumours. The subsequent use of radiation, chemotherapy, or hormonal treatments is dependent on the histopathologic characteristics of the tumor and the type of surgery. There is controversy regarding the optimal treatment of DCIS, which is noninvasive.
With such controversy as to the effectiveness of mammography and the potential risk associated with women being overtreated or actual cancers being missed, and the increased risk of breast cancer associated with exposure to annual mammograms over a 10-year period, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee requested this review of screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years at average risk for breast cancer. This review is the first of 2 parts and concentrates on the effectiveness of screening mammography (i.e., film mammography, FM) for women at average risk aged 40 to 49 years. The second part will be an evaluation of screening by either magnetic resonance imaging or digital mammography, with the objective of determining the optimal screening modality in these younger women.
Review Strategy
The following questions were asked:
Does screening mammography for women aged 40 to 49 years who are at average risk for breast cancer reduce breast cancer mortality?
What is the sensitivity and specificity of mammography for this age group?
What are the risks associated with annual screening from ages 40 to 49?
What are the risks associated with false positive and false negative mammography results?
What are the economic considerations if evidence for effectiveness is established?
The Medical Advisory Secretariat followed its standard procedures and searched these electronic databases: Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, Ovid MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment.
Keywords used in the search were breast cancer, breast neoplasms, mass screening, and mammography.
In total, the search yielded 6,359 articles specific to breast cancer screening and mammography. This did not include reports on diagnostic mammograms. The search was further restricted to English-language randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews, and meta-analyses published between 1995 and 2005. Excluded were case reports, comments, editorials, and letters, which narrowed the results to 516 articles and previous health technology policy assessments.
These were examined against the criteria outlined below. This resulted in the inclusion of 5 health technology assessments, the Canadian Preventive Services Task Force report, the United States Preventive Services Task Force report, 1 Cochrane review, and 8 RCTs.
Inclusion Criteria
English-language articles, and English and French-language health technology policy assessments, conducted by other organizations, from 1995 to 2005
Articles specific to RCTs of screening mammography of women at average risk for breast cancer that included results for women randomized to studies between the ages of 40 and 49 years
Studies in which women were randomized to screening with or without mammography, although women may have had clinical breast examinations and/or may have been conducting breast self-examination.
UK Age Trial results published in December 2006.
Exclusion Criteria
Observational studies, including those nested within RCTs
RCTs that do not include results on women between the ages of 40 and 49 at randomization
Studies in which mammography was compared with other radiologic screening modalities, for example, digital mammography, magnetic resonance imaging or ultrasound.
Studies in which women randomized had a personal history of breast cancer.
Film mammography
Within RCTs, the comparison group would have been women randomized to not undergo screening mammography, although they may have had clinical breast examinations and/or have been conducting breast self-examination.
Outcomes of Interest
Breast cancer mortality
Summary of Findings
There is Level 1 Canadian evidence that screening women between the ages of 40 and 49 years who are at average risk for breast cancer is not effective, and that the absence of a benefit is sustained over a maximum follow-up period of 16 years.
All remaining studies that reported on women aged under 50 years were based on subset analyses. They provide additional evidence that, when all these RCTs are taken into account, there is no significant reduction in breast cancer mortality associated with screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years.
There is Level 1 evidence that screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years at average risk for breast cancer is not effective in reducing mortality.
Moreover, risks associated with exposure to mammographic radiation, the increased risk of missed cancers due to lower mammographic sensitivity, and the psychological impact of false positives, are not inconsequential.
The UK Age Trial results published in December 2006 did not change these conclusions.
PMCID: PMC3377515  PMID: 23074501
12.  Association between Class III Obesity (BMI of 40–59 kg/m2) and Mortality: A Pooled Analysis of 20 Prospective Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(7):e1001673.
In a pooled analysis of 20 prospective studies, Cari Kitahara and colleagues find that class III obesity (BMI of 40–59) is associated with excess rates of total mortality, particularly due to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
The prevalence of class III obesity (body mass index [BMI]≥40 kg/m2) has increased dramatically in several countries and currently affects 6% of adults in the US, with uncertain impact on the risks of illness and death. Using data from a large pooled study, we evaluated the risk of death, overall and due to a wide range of causes, and years of life expectancy lost associated with class III obesity.
Methods and Findings
In a pooled analysis of 20 prospective studies from the United States, Sweden, and Australia, we estimated sex- and age-adjusted total and cause-specific mortality rates (deaths per 100,000 persons per year) and multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for adults, aged 19–83 y at baseline, classified as obese class III (BMI 40.0–59.9 kg/m2) compared with those classified as normal weight (BMI 18.5–24.9 kg/m2). Participants reporting ever smoking cigarettes or a history of chronic disease (heart disease, cancer, stroke, or emphysema) on baseline questionnaires were excluded. Among 9,564 class III obesity participants, mortality rates were 856.0 in men and 663.0 in women during the study period (1976–2009). Among 304,011 normal-weight participants, rates were 346.7 and 280.5 in men and women, respectively. Deaths from heart disease contributed largely to the excess rates in the class III obesity group (rate differences = 238.9 and 132.8 in men and women, respectively), followed by deaths from cancer (rate differences = 36.7 and 62.3 in men and women, respectively) and diabetes (rate differences = 51.2 and 29.2 in men and women, respectively). Within the class III obesity range, multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for total deaths and deaths due to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, nephritis/nephrotic syndrome/nephrosis, chronic lower respiratory disease, and influenza/pneumonia increased with increasing BMI. Compared with normal-weight BMI, a BMI of 40–44.9, 45–49.9, 50–54.9, and 55–59.9 kg/m2 was associated with an estimated 6.5 (95% CI: 5.7–7.3), 8.9 (95% CI: 7.4–10.4), 9.8 (95% CI: 7.4–12.2), and 13.7 (95% CI: 10.5–16.9) y of life lost. A limitation was that BMI was mainly ascertained by self-report.
Class III obesity is associated with substantially elevated rates of total mortality, with most of the excess deaths due to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and major reductions in life expectancy compared with normal weight.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The number of obese people (individuals with an excessive amount of body fat) is increasing rapidly in many countries. Worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013, more than a third of all adults are now overweight or obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI, an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) of more than 30 kg/m2 (a 183-cm [6-ft] tall man who weighs more than 100 kg [221 lbs] is obese). Compared to people with a healthy weight (a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2), overweight and obese individuals (who have a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 kg/m2 and a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more, respectively) have an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, and tend to die younger. Because people become unhealthily fat by consuming food and drink that contains more energy (kilocalories) than they need for their daily activities, obesity can be prevented or treated by eating less food and by increasing physical activity.
Why Was This Study Done?
Class III obesity (extreme, or morbid, obesity), which is defined as a BMI of more than 40 kg/m2, is emerging as a major public health problem in several high-income countries. In the US, for example, 6% of adults are now morbidly obese. Because extreme obesity used to be relatively uncommon, little is known about the burden of disease, including total and cause-specific mortality (death) rates, among individuals with class III obesity. Before we can prevent and treat class III obesity effectively, we need a better understanding of the health risks associated with this condition. In this pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies, the researchers evaluate the risk of total and cause-specific death and the years of life lost associated with class III obesity. A pooled analysis analyzes the data from several studies as if the data came from one large study; prospective cohort studies record the characteristics of a group of participants at baseline and follow them to see which individuals develop a specific condition.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers included 20 prospective (mainly US) cohort studies from the National Cancer Institute Cohort Consortium (a partnership that studies cancer by undertaking large-scale collaborations) in their pooled analysis. After excluding individuals who had ever smoked and people with a history of chronic disease, the analysis included 9,564 adults who were classified as class III obese based on self-reported height and weight at baseline and 304,011 normal-weight adults. Among the participants with class III obesity, mortality rates (deaths per 100,000 persons per year) during the 30-year study period were 856.0 and 663.0 in men and women, respectively, whereas the mortality rates among normal-weight men and women were 346.7 and 280.5, respectively. Heart disease was the major contributor to the excess death rate among individuals with class III obesity, followed by cancer and diabetes. Statistical analyses of the pooled data indicate that the risk of all-cause death and death due to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and several other diseases increased with increasing BMI. Finally, compared with having a normal weight, having a BMI between 40 and 59 kg/m2 resulted in an estimated loss of 6.5 to 13.7 years of life.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that class III obesity is associated with a substantially increased rate of death. Notably, this death rate increase is similar to the increase associated with smoking among normal-weight people. The findings also suggest that heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are responsible for most of the excess deaths among people with class III obesity and that having class III obesity results in major reductions in life expectancy. Importantly, the number of years of life lost continues to increase for BMI values above 50 kg/m2, and beyond this point, the loss of life expectancy exceeds that associated with smoking among normal-weight people. The accuracy of these findings is limited by the use of self-reported height and weight measurements to calculate BMI and by the use of BMI as the sole measure of obesity. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to all populations. Nevertheless, these findings highlight the need to develop more effective interventions to combat the growing public health problem of class III obesity.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages); Malri's story describes the health risks faced by an obese child
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about obesity, including a personal story about losing weight
The Global Burden of Disease Study website provides the latest details about global obesity trends
The US Department of Agriculture's website provides a personal healthy eating plan; the Weight-Control Information Network is an information service provided for the general public and health professionals by the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on obesity (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4087039  PMID: 25003901
13.  Body mass index, tumor characteristics, and prognosis following diagnosis of early stage breast cancer in a mammographically-screened population 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2012;24(2):305-312.
Many studies suggest increased body mass index (BMI) is associated with worse breast cancer outcomes, but few account for variability in screening, access to treatment, and tumor differences. We examined the association between BMI and risk of breast cancer recurrence, breast cancer-specific mortality, and all-cause mortality, and evaluated whether tumor characteristics differ by BMI among a mammographically-screened population with access to treatment.
Using a retrospective cohort study design, we followed 485 women aged ≥40 years diagnosed with stage I/II breast cancer within 24 months of a screening mammogram occurring between 1988 and 1993 for 10-year outcomes. BMI before diagnosis was categorized as normal (<25 kg/m2), overweight (25–29.9 kg/m2), and obese (≥30 kg/m2). Tumor marker expression was assessed via immunohistochemistry using tissue collected before adjuvant treatment. Medical records were abstracted to identify treatment, recurrence, and mortality. We used Cox proportional hazards to separately model the hazard ratios (HR) of our three outcomes by BMI while adjusting for age, stage, and tamoxifen use.
Relative to normal weight women, obese women experienced increased risk of recurrence (HR-2.43; 95%CI-1.34–4.41) and breast cancer death (HR-2.41; 95%CI-1.00–5.81) within 10 years of diagnosis. There was no association between BMI and all-cause mortality. Obese women had significantly faster growing tumors, as measured by Ki-67.
Our findings add to the growing evidence that obesity may contribute to poorer breast cancer outcomes, and also suggest that increased tumor proliferation among obese women is a pathway that explains part of their excess risk of adverse outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3557530  PMID: 23224272
breast cancer recurrence; breast cancer specific mortality; tumor characteristics; obesity; body mass index
14.  Improvement in Self-Reported Physical Health Predicts Longer Survival Among Women with a History of Breast Cancer 
Physical health-related quality of life scores have been, inconsistently, associated with breast cancer prognosis. This analysis examined whether change in physical health scores were related to outcomes in women with a history of breast cancer.
2343 breast cancer survivors in a randomized diet trial provided self-reported assessment of physical health-related quality of life at baseline and year 1. Based on change in physical health score, participants were grouped into subpopulations of decreased physical health, no/minimal changes, and increased physical health. Cox regression analysis assessed whether change in physical health (from baseline to year 1) predicted disease-free and overall survival; hazard ratio (HR) was the measure of association.
There were 294 additional breast cancer events and 162 deaths among women followed for 7.3 years. Improvements in physical health were associated with younger age, lower BMI, being employed, not receiving tamoxifen, lower physical activity, and lower baseline physical and mental health. There was no association of change in physical health with additional breast cancer events or mortality among women diagnosed ≤ 2 years before study enrollment. However, among women who entered the study >2 years post diagnosis, the HR for increased compared to decreased physical health was 0.38 (95% CI, 0.16 to 0.85) for all-cause mortality.
These results appear to support testing an intervention to improve physical health in breast cancer patients among patients after the acute stage of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3306248  PMID: 21042931
breast cancer; physical health; survival; mortality
15.  Prediagnosis Body Mass Index, Physical Activity, and Mortality in Endometrial Cancer Patients 
Higher body mass index (BMI) and inactivity have been associated with a higher risk of developing endometrial cancer, but the impact on endometrial cancer survival is unclear.
Among incident endometrial cancer case subjects in the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study, we examined associations of prediagnosis BMI (n = 1400) and physical activity (n = 875) with overall and disease-specific 5- and 10-year mortality. Using Cox proportional hazards regression, we estimated hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusting for tumor characteristics, treatment, and other risk factors. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Compared with women with a BMI in the range of 18.5 to less than 25kg/m2, the hazard ratios for 5-year all-cause mortality were 1.74 (95% CI = 1.13 to 2.66) for BMI in the range of 25 to less than 30kg/m2, 1.84 (95% CI = 1.17 to 2.88) for BMI in the range of 30 to less than 35kg/m2, and 2.35 (95% CI = 1.48 to 3.73) for BMI greater than or equal to 35kg/m2 (P trend < .001). Higher BMI was also statistically significantly associated with poorer endometrial cancer–specific but not cardiovascular disease 5-year mortality. Hazard ratio estimates for 10-year all-cause and endometrial cancer–specific mortality as related to BMI were similar to 5-year hazard ratio estimates, whereas 10-year cardiovascular disease mortality became statistically significant (HR = 4.08; 95% CI = 1.56 to 10.71 comparing extreme BMI groups). More physical activity was related to lower all-cause 5-year mortality (HR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.33 to 0.98 for >7 hours/week vs never/rarely), but the association was attenuated after adjustment for BMI (HR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.37 to 1.12). No association was observed between physical activity and disease-specific mortality.
Our findings suggest that higher prediagnosis BMI increases risk of overall and disease-specific mortality among women diagnosed with endometrial cancer, whereas physical activity lowers risk. Intervention studies of the effect of these modifiable lifestyle factors on mortality are needed.
PMCID: PMC3589256  PMID: 23297041
16.  Poor Physical Health Predicts Time to Additional Breast Cancer Events and Mortality in Breast Cancer Survivors 
Psycho-Oncology  2011;20(3):252-259.
Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) has been hypothesized to predict time to additional breast cancer events and all-cause mortality in breast cancer survivors.
Women with early stage breast cancer (n=2967) completed the SF-36 (mental and physical health-related quality of life) and standardized psychosocial questionnaires to assess social support, optimism, hostility, and depression prior to randomization into a dietary trial. Cox regression was performed to assess whether these measures of quality of life and psychosocial functioning predicted time to additional breast cancer events and all-cause mortality; hazard ratios were the measure of association.
There were 492 additional breast cancer events and 301 deaths occurred over a median 7.3 years (range: 0.01–10.8 years) of follow-up. In multivariate models, poorer physical health was associated with both decreased time to additional breast cancer events and all-cause mortality (p trend=0.005 and 0.004, respectively), while greater hostility predicted additional breast cancer events only (p trend=0.03). None of the other psycho-social variables predicted either outcome. The hazard ratios comparing persons with poor (bottom two quintiles) to better (top three quintiles) physical health were 1.42 (95% CI: 1.16, 1.75) for decreased time to additional breast cancer events and 1.37 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.74) for all-cause mortality. Potentially modifiable factors associated with poor physical health included higher BMI, lower physical activity, lower alcohol consumption, and more insomnia (p<0.05 for all).
Interventions to improve physical health should be tested as a means to increase time to additional breast cancer events and mortality among breast cancer survivors.
PMCID: PMC3297415  PMID: 20878837
physical health; breast cancer; oncology; survival
17.  Body mass index before and after breast cancer diagnosis: Associations with all-cause, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality 
Factors related to improving outcomes in breast cancer survivors are of increasing public health significance. We examined post-diagnosis weight change in relation to mortality risk in a cohort of breast cancer survivors.
We analyzed data from a cohort of 3,993 women aged 20−79 living in New Hampshire, Massachusetts or Wisconsin with invasive, nonmetastatic breast cancers diagnosed in 1988−1999 identified through state registries. Participants completed a structured telephone interview 1−2 years after diagnosis and returned a mailed follow-up questionnaire in 1998−2001 that addressed post-diagnosis weight and other factors. Vital status information was obtained from the National Death Index through December 2005. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated from Cox proportional hazards models and adjusted for pre-diagnosis weight, age, stage, smoking, physical activity and other important covariates.
During an average 6.3 years of follow-up from the post-diagnosis questionnaire, we identified 421 total deaths, including 121 deaths from breast cancer and 95 deaths from cardiovascular disease. Increasing post-diagnosis weight gain and weight loss were each associated with greater all-cause mortality. Among women who gained weight after breast cancer diagnosis, each 5 kg gain was associated with a 12% increase in all-cause mortality (p=0.004), a 13% increase in breast cancer-specific mortality (p=0.01), and a 19% increase in cardiovascular disease mortality (p=0.04). Associations with breast cancer mortality were not modified by pre-diagnosis menopausal status, cigarette smoking, or body mass index.
These findings suggest that efforts to minimize weight gain after a breast cancer diagnosis may improve survival.
PMCID: PMC2715918  PMID: 19366908
Breast cancer; mortality; BMI; weight change; survival
18.  Obesity and Mortality After Breast Cancer by Race/Ethnicity: The California Breast Cancer Survivorship Consortium 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;179(1):95-111.
We investigated body size and survival by race/ethnicity in 11,351 breast cancer patients diagnosed from 1993 to 2007 with follow-up through 2009 by using data from questionnaires and the California Cancer Registry. We calculated hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals from multivariable Cox proportional hazard model–estimated associations of body size (body mass index (BMI) (weight (kg)/height (m)2) and waist-hip ratio (WHR)) with breast cancer–specific and all-cause mortality. Among 2,744 ascertained deaths, 1,445 were related to breast cancer. Being underweight (BMI <18.5) was associated with increased risk of breast cancer mortality compared with being normal weight in non-Latina whites (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.91, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.14, 3.20), whereas morbid obesity (BMI ≥40) was suggestive of increased risk (HR = 1.43, 95% CI: 0.84, 2.43). In Latinas, only the morbidly obese were at high risk of death (HR = 2.26, 95% CI: 1.23, 4.15). No BMI–mortality associations were apparent in African Americans and Asian Americans. High WHR (quartile 4 vs. quartile 1) was associated with breast cancer mortality in Asian Americans (HR = 2.21, 95% CI: 1.21, 4.03; P for trend = 0.01), whereas no associations were found in African Americans, Latinas, or non-Latina whites. For all-cause mortality, even stronger BMI and WHR associations were observed. The impact of obesity and body fat distribution on breast cancer patients' risk of death may vary across racial/ethnic groups.
PMCID: PMC3864715  PMID: 24107615
adiposity; body mass index; breast cancer; mortality; obesity; race/ethnicity; survival; waist-hip ratio
19.  The impact of cancer prevention guideline adherence on overall mortality in a high-risk cohort of women from the New York site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends at least 150 min of moderate intensity physical activity per week, alcohol intake of ≤1 drink per day, and maintaining a body mass index (BMI) of <25 kg/m2 for breast cancer prevention. Adherence to these guidelines has been linked to lower overall mortality in average-risk populations, it is not known if mortality reduction extends to women at higher risk given their family history of breast cancer. We followed 2,905 women from a high-risk Breast Cancer Family Registry in New York, of which 77 % were white non-Hispanic and 23 % were Hispanic. We collected information on BMI, physical activity, and alcohol intake at baseline and prospectively followed our cohort for outcomes based on questionnaires and National Death Index linkage. We used Cox regression to examine the relation between adherence to ACS guidelines and overall mortality and examined effect modification by race, age, and BRCA status. There were 312 deaths after an average of 9.2 ± 4.1 years of follow-up. Adherence to all three ACS recommendations was associated with 44–53 % lower mortality in women unaffected with breast cancer at baseline [Hazard Ratio (HR) 0.56, 95 % CI (0.33–0.93)] and in women affected with breast cancer at baseline [HR 0.47, 95 % CI (0.30–0.74)]. These associations remained after stratification by age, race, and BRCA status {e.g., BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 carriers [HR 0.39, 95 % CI (0.16–0.97)]}. These results support that women at high risk, similar to women at average risk, may also have substantial benefits from maintaining the ACS guidelines.
PMCID: PMC4308644  PMID: 25604794
Breast cancer risk; Lifestyle behaviors; Mortality; Racial/ethnic disparities; Prevention
20.  Pre-diagnosis Body Mass Index and Survival After Breast Cancer in the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project 
Obese and underweight women who develop breast cancer may have poorer survival compared to normal-weight women. However, the optimal weight for best prognosis is still under study. We conducted a prospective investigation of pre-diagnosis body mass index (BMI) and mortality among 14,948 breast cancer patients in the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project. Breast cancer patients diagnosed from 1990-2006 with AJCC Stage I-III breast tumors were drawn from four prospective cohorts. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) representing the associations of BMI categories (World Health Organization international classifications) with recurrence and mortality were estimated using delayed entry Cox proportional hazards models. Obese (30-<35 kg/m2), severely obese (35-<40 kg/m2), and morbidly obese (≥40 kg/m2) were examined. After a mean follow-up of 7.8 years, 2,140 deaths and 2,065 recurrences were documented. Both underweight (HR=1.59; 95% CI: 1.18, 2.13) and morbidly obese women (HR=1.81; 95% CI: 1.42, 2.32) had the greatest risk of overall mortality compared to normal-weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) women. Severe obesity (HR=1.09; 95% CI: 0.88, 1.36) and obesity (HR=1.11; 95% CI: 0.97, 1.27) were related to small, non-significant increased risks. Overweight (25.0-29.9 kg/m2) was not associated with any excess risk compared to normal weight. Similar associations were found for breast cancer death and non-breast cancer death but not recurrence. Women who were underweight and morbidly obese before breast cancer diagnosis were at the greatest risk of all-cause mortality. Morbidly obese women were also at increased risk of death from breast cancer. These results suggest that degree of obesity confers differential risk on survival.
PMCID: PMC3507508  PMID: 22187127
body mass index; weight; obesity; breast cancer; survival; prognosis; mortality
21.  Pre- and post-diagnosis body mass index, weight change and ovarian cancer mortality 
Gynecologic oncology  2010;120(2):209-213.
The purpose of this study was (1) to investigate the association between BMI self-reported at three time points (during their 20s, 5 years before diagnosis and, post-diagnosis) and mortality among 388 women with newly diagnosed epithelial ovarian cancer and (2) weight change between these 3 time points and mortality.
Women completed interview-administered questionnaires on average 9 months post-diagnosis. Women were followed 5 years after diagnosis or until death, whichever came first. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to estimate associations between BMI during the 20s, BMI 5 years prior to diagnosis, BMI post-diagnosis (i.e., at the time of interview) and weight changes between these time points and mortality.
The five-year survival rate was 54% (178 deaths, 146 from ovarian cancer). BMI measured continuously at all three time points was associated with a higher risk of ovarian cancer mortality (P ≤ 0.05). The strongest association was observed with BMI in 20s and all cause mortality comparing women with BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 to BMI < 25 kg/m2 (HR = 1.82; 95% CI, 1.02–3.27; P for trend = 0.045). For weight change from 20s to 5 years prior to diagnosis and ovarian cancer specific mortality, we observed a 68% higher risk of ovarian cancer mortality (HR = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.11–2.55; P for trend = 0.015, comparing women with <10 lbs weight gain to women with ≥10 lbs weight gain).
BMI prior to and after diagnosis and weight gain throughout adulthood is associated with ovarian cancer mortality.
PMCID: PMC3034401  PMID: 21106231
ovarian cancer; BMI; weight; prognosis; mortality
22.  Body Size, Physical Activity, and Risk of Triple-Negative and Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer 
Triple-negative breast cancer, characterized by a lack of hormone receptor and HER2 expression, is associated with a particularly poor prognosis. Focusing on potentially modifiable breast cancer risk factors, we examined the relationship between body size, physical activity, and triple-negative disease risk.
Using data from 155,723 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative (median follow-up 7.9 years), we assessed associations between baseline body mass index (BMI), BMI in earlier adulthood, waist and hip circumference, waist-hip ratio (WHR), recreational physical activity, and risk of triple-negative (N=307) and estrogen receptor-positive (ER+, N=2,610) breast cancers.
Women in the highest versus lowest BMI quartile had 1.35-fold [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.92–1.99] and 1.39-fold (95% CI: 1.22–1.58) increased risks of triple-negative and ER+ breast cancers, respectively. Waist and hip circumferences were positively associated with risk of ER+ breast cancer (p for trend=0.01 for both measures) but were not associated with triple-negative breast cancer. Compared to women who reported no recreational physical activity, women in the highest activity tertile had similarly lower risks of triple-negative and ER+ breast cancers [hazard ratio (HR)=0.77, 95% CI: 0.51–1.13 and HR=0.85, 95% CI: 0.74–0.98, respectively].
Despite biological and clinical differences, triple-negative and ER+ breast cancers are similarly associated with BMI and recreational physical activity in postmenopausal women. The biological mechanisms underlying these similarities are uncertain and these modest associations require further investigation.
If confirmed, these results suggest potential ways postmenopausal women might modify their risk of both ER+ and triple-negative breast cancers.
PMCID: PMC3064558  PMID: 21364029
triple-negative; breast cancer; physical activity; body mass index
23.  Physical Activity and Risk of Recurrence and Mortality in Breast Cancer Survivors: Findings from the LACE Study 
Identifying modifiable factors that reduce the risk of recurrence and improve survival in breast cancer survivors is a pressing concern. The purpose of this study was to examine the association of physical activity following diagnosis and treatment with the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality and all-cause mortality in women with early-stage breast cancer.
Materials and Methods
The sample consisted of 1,970 women from the Life After Cancer Epidemiology study, a prospective investigation of behavioral risk factors and health outcomes. Self-reported frequency and duration of work-related, household and caregiving, recreational, and transportation-related activities during the six months prior to enrollment were assessed. Outcomes were ascertained from electronic or paper medical charts. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated from delayed entry Cox proportional hazards models.
Although age-adjusted results suggested that higher levels of physical activity were associated with reduced risk of recurrence and breast cancer mortality (P for trend = 0.05 and 0.07, respectively for highest versus lowest level of hours per week of moderate physical activity), these associations were attenuated after adjustment for prognostic factors and other confounding variables (P for trend = 0.36 and 0.26). In contrast, a statistically significant protective association between physical activity and all-cause mortality remained in multivariable analyses (hazard ratio, 0.66; 95% confidence interval, 0.42–1.03; P for trend = 0.04).
These findings do not support a protective effect of physical activity on breast cancer recurrence or mortality but do suggest that regular physical activity is beneficial for breast cancer survivors in terms of total mortality.
PMCID: PMC3507507  PMID: 19124485
24.  Physical Activity, Body Mass Index and Mammographic Density in Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Survivors 
To investigate the association between physical activity, body mass index (BMI) and mammographic density in an ethnically-diverse population-based sample of 522 postmenopausal women diagnosed with stage 0–IIIA breast cancer and enrolled in the Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle Study.
We collected information on BMI and physical activity during a clinic visit two to three years after diagnosis. Weight and height were measured in a standard manner. Using an interview-administered questionnaire, participants recalled the type, duration, and frequency of physical activities in the past year. We estimated dense area and percent density as a continuous measure using a computer-assisted software program from mammograms imaged approximately one to two years after diagnosis. Analysis of covariance methods were used to obtain mean density across World Health Organization BMI categories and physical activity tertiles adjusted for confounders.
We observed a statistically significant decline in percent density (p for trend = .0001), and mammographic dense area (p for trend = 0.0052), with increasing level of BMI adjusted for potential covariates. We observed a statistically significant decline in mammographic dense area (p for trend = .036) with increasing level of sports/recreational physical activity in women with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2. Conversely, in women with a BMI < 25 kg/m2, we observed a nonstatistically significant increase in mammographic dense area and percent density with increasing level of sports/recreational physical activity.
Increasing physical activity among obese postmenopausal breast cancer survivors may be a reasonable intervention approach to reduce mammographic density.
PMCID: PMC3839099  PMID: 17261853
breast cancer; body fat; exercise; obesity; weight; breast tissue; breast density
25.  Postdiagnosis diet quality, the combination of diet quality and recreational physical activity, and prognosis after early-stage breast cancer 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2011;22(4):589-598.
To investigate, among women with breast cancer, how postdiagnosis diet quality and the combination of diet quality and recreational physical activity are associated with prognosis.
This multiethnic, prospective observational cohort included 670 women diagnosed with local or regional breast cancer. Thirty months after diagnosis, women completed self-report assessments on diet and physical activity and were followed for 6 years. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals for death from any cause and breast cancer death.
Women consuming better-quality diets, as defined by higher Healthy Eating Index-2005 scores, had a 60% reduced risk of death from any cause (HRQ4:Q1: 0.40, 95% CI: 0.17, 0.94) and an 88% reduced risk of death from breast cancer (HRQ4:Q1: 0.12, 95% CI: 0.02, 0.99). Compared with inactive survivors consuming poor-quality diets, survivors engaging in any recreational physical activity and consuming better-quality diets had an 89% reduced risk of death from any cause (HR: 0.11, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.36) and a 91% reduced risk of death from breast cancer (HR: 0.09, 95% CI: 0.01, 0.89). Associations observed were independent of obesity status.
Women diagnosed with localized or regional breast cancer may improve prognosis by adopting better-quality dietary patterns and regular recreational physical activity. Lifestyle interventions emphasizing postdiagnosis behavior changes are advisable in breast cancer survivors.
PMCID: PMC3091887  PMID: 21340493
Diet; Exercise; Breast neoplasm; Prognosis

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