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Abdominal Obesity and Breast Cancer Risk

David V. Schapira, MBChB; Nagi B. Kumar, RD, MA; Gary H. Lyman, MD, MPH; and Charles E. Cox, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Requests for Reprints: David V. Schapira, MBChB, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, University of South Florida College of Medicine, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Schapira, Lyman, and Cox and Ms. Kumar: H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, University of South Florida College of Medicine, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612.


© 1990 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1990;112(3):182-186. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-112-3-182
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Study Objective: To determine if body fat distribution affects breast cancer risk.

Design: Prospective case-control study.

Patients: The anthropometric measurements of 216 consecutively and newly diagnosed women with invasive carcinoma of the breast were compared with those of 432 agematched controls. The anthropometric measurements taken were abdomen, thigh, suprailiac, biceps, triceps, subscapular, and midaxillary skinfolds; waist and hip circumference; and weight and height. Women between 25 and 83 years of age were included in the study.

Results: Patients with breast cancer had a significantly greater waist:hip circumference ratio than controls (P < 0.001) and a significantly greater suprailiac: thigh skinfold ratio (P < 0.001). The relative risk for breast cancer increased with increasing waist:hip circumference ratio ( < 0.73 = 1.00; 0.73 to 76 = 1.90; 0.77 to 0.80 = 2.83; > 0.80 = 6.46) and with suprailia:thigh skinfold ratio (< 0.42 = 1.00; 0.42 to 0.56 = 1.85; 0.57 to 0.71 = 2.25; > 0.71 = 5.85). At other sites of upper body obesity, such as the biceps and triceps, skinfolds were significantly greater in patients with breast cancer.

Conclusion: Although obese women are at slightly higher risk for developing breast cancer, women with android obesity are a segment of obese women who appear to be at a significantly higher risk for developing breast cancer.

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