Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 126, Issue 1, pp 193–202 | Cite as

Body weight and risk of breast cancer in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers

  • Peggy Manders
  • Anouk Pijpe
  • Maartje J. Hooning
  • Irma Kluijt
  • Hans F. A. Vasen
  • Nicoline Hoogerbrugge
  • Christi J. van Asperen
  • Hanne Meijers-Heijboer
  • Margreet G. E. M. Ausems
  • Theo A. van Os
  • Encarna B. Gomez-Garcia
  • Richard M. Brohet
  • Flora E. van Leeuwen
  • Matti A. RookusEmail author


Obesity is an established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer in the general population. However, it is still unclear whether this association also exists in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. We investigated the association between self-reported anthropometric measures and breast cancer risk in a nationwide retrospective cohort study, including 719 BRCA1/2 carriers, of whom 218 had been diagnosed with breast cancer within 10 years prior to questionnaire completion. All time-varying Cox proportional hazards analyses were stratified by menopausal status. For premenopausal breast cancer, no statistically significant associations were observed for any of the anthropometric measures. The association between body mass index (BMI) at age 18 and premenopausal breast cancer risk suggested a trend of decreasing risk with increasing BMI (HR22.50–24.99 vs. 18.50–22.49 = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.47–1.44 and HR≥25.00 vs. 18.50–22.49 = 0.41, 95% CI = 0.13–1.27). For postmenopausal breast cancer, being 1.67 m and taller increased the risk 1.7-fold (HR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.01–2.74) when compared to a height <1.67 m. Compared with a current body weight <72 kg, a current body weight of ≥72 kg increased the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer 2.1-fold (95% CI = 1.23–3.59). A current BMI of ≥25.0 kg/m2, an adult weight gain of 5 kg or more, and a relative adult weight gain of 20% or more were all non-significantly associated with a 50–60% increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer [HR = 1.46 (0.86–2.51), HR = 1.56 (95% CI = 0.85–2.87), and HR = 1.60 (95% CI = 0.97–2.63), respectively], when compared with having a healthy or stable weight. No associations for body weight or BMI at age 18 were observed. In conclusion, menopausal status seemed to modify the association between body weight and breast cancer risk among BRCA1/2 carriers. We observed no clear association between body weight and premenopausal breast cancer, while overweight and weight gain increased postmenopausal breast cancer risk. Carriers may reduce their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life.


Body weight Breast cancer BRCA1/2 HEBON Epidemiology 



This work was financially supported by the Dutch Cancer Society (grants NKI1998-1854, NKI2004-3088, NKI 2007-3756).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peggy Manders
    • 1
    • 5
  • Anouk Pijpe
    • 1
  • Maartje J. Hooning
    • 2
  • Irma Kluijt
    • 3
  • Hans F. A. Vasen
    • 4
  • Nicoline Hoogerbrugge
    • 5
  • Christi J. van Asperen
    • 6
  • Hanne Meijers-Heijboer
    • 7
  • Margreet G. E. M. Ausems
    • 8
  • Theo A. van Os
    • 9
  • Encarna B. Gomez-Garcia
    • 10
  • Richard M. Brohet
    • 1
    • 11
  • Flora E. van Leeuwen
    • 1
  • Matti A. Rookus
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyNetherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Medical OncologyRotterdam Family Cancer Clinic, Erasmus MC-Daniel den Hoed Cancer CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Family Cancer ClinicNetherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.The Netherlands Foundation for the Detection of Hereditary TumoursPoortgebouw ZuidLeidenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Human GeneticsRadboud University Nijmegen Medical CentreNijmegenThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of Clinical GeneticsLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Department of Clinical Genetics and Human GeneticsVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  8. 8.Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  9. 9.Department of Clinical GeneticsAcademic Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  10. 10.Department of Clinical GeneticsMaastricht University Medical CenterMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  11. 11.Department of Research and EducationSpaarne HospitalHoofddorpThe Netherlands

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