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Is Body Fat Topography a Risk Factor for Breast Cancer?

Jeanne A. Petrek, MD; Margaret Peters, BS, RN; Constance Cirrincione, MS; Deborah Rhodes, MD; and Daiva Bajorunas, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York. Requests for Reprints: Jeanne A. Petrek, MD, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021. Grant Support: In part by American Cancer Society Award PT-331.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1993;118(5):356-362. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-118-5-199303010-00006
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Objective: To determine whether body fat distribution is associated with the onset of breast cancer.

Design: Case-control study.

Setting: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.

Patients: Three hundred thirteen healthy, white women, born in the United States.

Measurements: Waist and hip circumferences were measured on the day before diagnostic breast surgery, and an extensive risk assessment of clinical and family history data was done. After the results of diagnostic breast surgery were obtained, study participants were divided into three groups: women with breast cancer (n = 156); controls (n = 126) with benign tissue at biopsy and an average risk for breast cancer; and high-risk women (n = 31), defined as being at a risk for breast cancer development of 1% per year, based on rigorous histologic or clinical criteria.

Results: The waist-to-hip ratios (WHR) were identical (mean ±SD) in case patients (0.80 ± 0.06), controls (0.80 ± 0.06), and high-risk women (0.80 ± 0.08). Further, no trend could be detected between increasing WHR and breast cancer risk; the estimated relative risk for cancer incidence in women with WHR ≥ 0.81 was 0.78 (95% CI, 0.36 to 1.71), compared with women with WHR of less than 0.73. No difference in WHR was noted between the case patients and controls when analyzed separately according to menopausal status, age, absolute weight, or relative weight.

Conclusion: In the women studied, body fat topography as defined by WHR was not associated with breast cancer development.

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