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Obesity Linked to Poor Prognosis for Some Breast Cancer Patients
Date:3/14/2008

were either overweight or obese at diagnosis. Slightly more than 80 percent of the patients had standard locally advanced breast cancer, while 18 percent had the more deadly IBC disease.

Comparing weight records with disease statistics, the researchers found that a greater proportion of obese patients were diagnosed with IBC compared with either overweight or normal/underweight patients.

Among all patients with locally advanced breast cancer, overweight or obese women were more likely to have a higher grade of breast cancer at diagnosis, followed by more disease recurrence and shorter survival times.

Cristofanilli and his colleagues noted that they tracked BMI status only at diagnosis, not during subsequent treatment. Still, they concluded that obese and overweight women coping with locally advanced breast cancer could benefit from the inclusion of a dietary component in their treatment regimen.

"Obesity is a major issue for our society, and it raises the possibility that perhaps if we reduce excess weight, we might reduce the incidence of breast cancer in the first place," said Cristofanilli. "And for those already diagnosed, lifestyle modification and weight control -- and probably more aggressive follow-up -- might be needed in addition to chemotherapy and other standard treatments."

But Dr. Harold J. Burstein, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, cautioned that the evidence suggesting a link between obesity and poor breast cancer outcomes is "less than overwhelming."

"There's a lot of suggestive data, but there's nothing that's absolutely definitive," he said. "That is not to say that there is anything to suggest that it is risky for breast cancer patients to make an effort to maintain their weight through food control and exercise. And it can certainly help strengthen bones and lower the risk for diabetes and heart disease, which i
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