Breast Cancer

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 648–656 | Cite as

Adult BMI change and risk of Breast Cancer: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2010

  • Wambui G. Gathirua-MwangiEmail author
  • Terrell W. Zollinger
  • Mwangi J. Murage
  • Kamnesh R. Pradhan
  • Victoria L. Champion
Original Article



Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality among women in the developed world. This study assessed the association between occurrence of breast cancer and body mass index (BMI) change from age 25 to age closest to breast cancer diagnosis while exploring the modifying effects of demographic variables.


The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data were used. Women included were ≥50 years, not pregnant and without a diagnosis of any cancer but breast. The total sample included 2895 women (172 with breast cancer and 2723 controls with no breast cancer diagnosis). Multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate the OR and 95 % CIs and interaction evaluated by including an interaction term in the model.


Women whose BMI increased from normal or overweight to obese compared to those who remained at a normal BMI were found to have a 2 times higher odds (OR = 2.1; 95 % CI 1.11–3.79) of developing breast cancer. No significant association was observed for women who increased to overweight. However, a more pronounced association was observed in non-Hispanic black women (OR = 6.6; 95 % CI 1.68–25.86) and a significant association observed when they increased from normal to overweight (OR = 4.2; 95 % CI 1.02–17.75).


Becoming obese after age 25 is associated with increased risk of breast cancer in women over 50 years old, with non-Hispanic black women being at greatest risk.


BMI change Weight gain Breast cancer Race NHANES Cancer Epidemiology Prevention 



Ms. Gathirua-Mwangi is a predoctoral fellow funded by the Training in Research for Behavioral Oncology and Cancer Control Program—R25 (PI: Champion). Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers R25 CA117865-07S1 and K05CA175048. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Breast Cancer Society 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wambui G. Gathirua-Mwangi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Terrell W. Zollinger
    • 1
  • Mwangi J. Murage
    • 1
  • Kamnesh R. Pradhan
    • 4
    • 5
  • Victoria L. Champion
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public HealthIndiana UniversityIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.Training in Research for Behavioral Oncology and Cancer Control ProgramIndiana University School of Nursing, National Institutes of Health, CURE SupplementIndianapolisUSA
  3. 3.Center for Nursing Research, School of NursingIndiana UniversityIndianapolisUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pediatric Hematology-OncologyRiley Hospital for ChildrenIndianapolisUSA
  5. 5.Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer CenterIndianapolisUSA

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