Associations between obesity, metabolic health, and the risk of breast cancer in East Asian women

Boyoung Park, Soyeoun Kim, Hayoung Kim, Chihwan Cha, Min Sung Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study examined the associations between metabolic syndrome(MetS), obesity, their combination as a metabolic obesity phenotype, and the risk of breast cancer in East Asian postmenopausal women. Methods: A total of 3,095,336 postmenopausal cancer-free women aged 40–79 years who underwent the National Health Insurance Service health examination between 2009 and 2010 were included. The incidence of invasive breast cancer was followed up until 2018. The presence of obesity (body mass index[BMI] ≥25 kg/m2), MetS, and each component of MetS was investigated. Results: Obesity and MetS were associated with breast cancer risk, but when the effects of obesity and MetS were mutually adjusted, the associations were attenuated, especially for MetS. Only elevated fasting blood glucose levels and waist circumference increased the risk of breast cancer after adjusting for BMI. Compared to metabolically healthy normal-weight women, metabolically unhealthy normal-weight women, metabolically healthy obese, and metabolically unhealthy obese women had an increased risk of breast cancer. Conclusions: Obesity and MetS were independently associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, despite the relationship between MetS and breast cancer appearing to result from a partial association with BMI. Postmenopausal women should be encouraged to control their weight and metabolic health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


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