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Einstein scientists link elevated insulin to increased breast cancer risk
Date:7/9/2009

s one, three and six. The remaining women, who were enrolled in a separate "observational" component of the study, provided fasting blood samples at baseline and at year three of the study. Among all these women, 190 cases of breast cancer were identified over eight years of follow-up.

The analysis by Dr. Kabat and colleagues revealed a strong association between elevated insulin levels and increased risk for breast cancer.

After dividing the participants into three groups based on their insulin levels, the researchers found that women in the upper third for insulin level were more than twice as likely to develop breast cancer compared with women in bottom third for insulin level. The association between insulin level and breast cancer risk was even stronger for those women who had not received treatment in the clinical trial (i.e., the placebo participants) or were in the observational component: women in the upper third for insulin level had a more than three-fold increased risk for breast cancer compared with those in the bottom third.

Notably, the link between elevated insulin level and breast cancer was strongest among lean women and weakest among obese women (who, in general, have higher insulin levels compared with lean women). "This finding is potentially important because it indicates that, in postmenopausal women, insulin may be a risk factor for breast cancer that is independent of obesity," says Dr. Kabat. However, because the number of lean women was small, this finding is preliminary.

While these results require confirmation from other studies, Dr. Kabat notes that the current recommendations for reducing breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women including maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical exercise can help to reduce insulin levels.


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Contact: Deirdre Branley
sciencenews@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-2923
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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