Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 159–169 | Cite as

Premorbid body weight and its relations to primary tumour diameter in breast cancer patients; its dependence on estrogen and progesteron receptor status

  • Bjørn Ove Mæhle
  • Steinar Tretli
  • Rolv Skjærven
  • Thor Thorsen


Hormonal mechanisms have been offered as an explanation for the higher frequency of large tumours, lymph node metastases and poorer prognosis in obese breast cancer patients than in lean ones. If hormonal mechanisms are important for these relations, they should probably act more strongly in patients with hormonal receptor positive tumours than in those with negative ones. We have examined if the relations between premorbid body weight or Quetelet's index (weight/height2) and tumour diameter are modified by estrogen receptor alpha (ER) and progesteron receptor (PgR) status. The analyses were based on 1,241 women with unilateral disease treated with modified radical mastectomy living in the geografic area of Haukeland Hospital. Their body weight and height have been measured as a mean 12.5years before presentation of the disease. Body weight and Quetelet's index have been adjusted for age. The relations were studied using linear regression analyses adjusting the effect of body weight with height and mean nuclear area of the tumour cells and adjusting the effect of Quetelet's index for mean nuclear area. The main findings showed that patients with high body weight or Quetelet's index presented more often with PgR positive tumours than lean ones. Quetelet's index was also positively related to ER. These relations were present in patients older than 50 years of age (older). Patients with large tumours (>2.0cm) had significantly higher body weight and Quetelet's index than those with small ones. These differences were significantly present in older patients and in patients with PgR negative and ER negative – PgR negative tumours. Linear regression analyses confirmed that tumour diameter increases with body weight and Quetelet's index. These relations were present in both lymph node groups and in older patients. Stratification according to hormonal receptor status showed these relations to be significant in patients with ER negative, with PgR negative and those with ER negative – PgR negative tumours only. Taking age and hormonal receptor status into consideration simultaneously, both body weight and Quetelet's index were significantly related to tumour diameter in older patients with hormone receptor negative tumours. In conclusion body size was positively related to hormone receptor status and to diameter of the primary tumour. The relation to tumour diameter was present in older patients with hormone receptor negative tumours. Although hormonal mechanisms able to act on the tumour can not be excluded, mechanisms acting independent of hormonal receptors must be considered. Different mechanisms related to body fat cytokines are discussed.

body weight breast cancer estrogen receptor status progesteron receptor status Quetelet's index tumour diameter 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bjørn Ove Mæhle
    • 1
  • Steinar Tretli
    • 2
  • Rolv Skjærven
    • 3
  • Thor Thorsen
    • 4
  1. 1.The Gade Institute, Department of PathologyBergenNorway
  2. 2.The Cancer Registry of NorwayInstitute of Epidemiological Cancer ResearchMontebello, OsloNorway
  3. 3.Section for Medical Informatics and StatisticsBergenNorway
  4. 4.The Hormone LaboratoryUniversity of Bergen, Haukeland HospitalBergenNorway

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