Pre-diagnosis body mass index and survival after breast cancer in the after Breast Cancer Pooling Project

Marilyn L. Kwan, Wendy Y. Chen, Candyce H. Kroenke, Erin K. Weltzien, Jeannette M. Beasley, Sarah J. Nechuta, Elizabeth M. Poole, Wei Lu, Michelle D. Holmes, Charles P. Quesenberry, John P. Pierce, Xiao Ou Shu, Bette J. Caan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obese and underweight women who develop breast cancer may have poorer survival compared with 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 to 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 to <35 kg/m 2), severely obese (35 to <40 kg/m 2), and morbidly obese (≥40 kg/m 2) 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 with normal weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m 2) 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/m 2) was not associated with any excess risk compared with 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-739
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Body mass index
  • Breast cancer
  • Mortality
  • Obesity
  • Prognosis
  • Survival
  • Weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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