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Accuracy of Mammograms

Researchers say that overweight women might want to shed those extra pounds since women who are overweight or obese are more likely to // have a false-positive finding on a routine mammogram. Doctors say obese women past menopause are more likely than those of normal weight to get breast cancer and also more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage cancers. However, little study exists on the accuracy of mammograms in overweight and obese women.

Researchers analyzed more than 100,000 routine mammograms performed on women covered by a non-profit health plan comparing call backs for false-positive results with the women’s weight.Women who were considered overweight -- those with a body mass index between 25 and 29 -- were 17 percent more likely to be called back due to a false-positive than those with normal or below normal weight (BMI under 25). Women classified in the obese category one (BMI between 30 and 34) were 27 percent more likely to receive a call back, and those in obese categories II and III (BMI 35 or greater) were 31 percent more likely.

Thus researchers say obese women have more than a 20-percent increased risk of having false-positive mammography results compared with underweight and normal weight women.

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