In the obesity study, also scheduled for presentation Thursday at the symposium, Danish researchers looked at the effect of body-mass index (BMI) on the outcomes of breast cancer patients.
From a database of nearly 54,000 women, they had information on BMI for 35 percent of the women, or nearly 19,000 patients.
Breast cancer patients with a higher than normal BMI -- more than 25 -- had a higher risk of death from breast cancer than leaner patients, they found. Cancers were likely to be detected later in the heavier women, and positive treatment effects were shorter among that group of women as well.
Within the first 10 years of follow-up, which spanned 30 years for some, chemo and hormone treatments were equally effective for lean and obese women. But after a decade, the treatments were less effective in the obese women.
Gapstur, who reviewed the study, said the women diagnosed longer ago may have gotten different treatments, which could have affected the results.
"The overall take-home message of this research is that obesity contributes to a poorer overall survival, which is consistent with research published previously," she said.
As for what to do about alcohol consumption, Kwan agreed more study is needed to better define the link between alcohol consumption and recurrence risk. Meanwhile, what should breast cancer survivors do? "I would say that I think they should, given the results of our study, consider possibly minimizing their consumption of alcohol."
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