Weight, elevated insulin increases breast cancer risk

July 8th, 2008 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, July 8 (IANS) Obese women or those who have high glucose or insulin levels are more likely to be diagnosed with an advanced breast cancer, according to a new study. Researchers came to this conclusion after tracking more than 60,000 Swedish women over a 20-year period, from 1985 to 2005.

All of them were cancer-free when recruited and had been tested for glucose, insulin and other hormones associated with obesity and diabetes risk.

Insulin resistance is most commonly caused by being overweight and inactive and is often a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.

Anne Cust of Melbourne University, who led the research, said that past studies had shown a strong link between being overweight and increased breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women.

But this study is the first to demonstrate the influence of insulin-resistance on the stage of cancer diagnosis.

“Women with insulin-resistance or who were overweight were less likely to be diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancers but at greater risk of being diagnosed with stage 2 to 4 tumours - larger, more advanced cancers,” she said.

“We know that being overweight and having insulin resistance is a risk factor for getting cancer but - in the case of breast cancer — our study indicates that the cancer will be more advanced.”

Cust said the research findings were particularly significant at a time when there were major public health concerns about obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates.

Findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

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