Abdominal fat increases risk of breast cancer

Excessive abdominal fat increases your risk to get breast cancer, says a new study done by Tata Memorial Hospital. The study, which was published in European Journal of Cancer’s latest edition, said irrespective of risk factors like menopausal and hormonal receptor (proteins found in and on breast cells) status in women, high abdominal obesity is a key factor to breast cancer in Asian women.

healthcare, people, charity and medicine concept - close up of woman in t-shirt with breast cancer awareness ribbon over pink background

The study makes important revelation as India is seeing an increasing incidence of breast cancer in younger groups (30s and 40s). The National Cancer Registry Programme says almost 48% of breast cancer patients are below 50.

“Our study indicated that distribution of body fat is more important risk factor for breast cancer in this Asian population,” said Dr Sudeep Gupta, oncologist, Tata Memorial hospital and one of the co-authors of the study.

Cancer specialists say relationship between obesity and breast cancer is complex. “Different ethnic populations show different patterns of risk depending on the particular measure of obesity. The differences may be due to differences in body fatness in terms of central obesity,” said Gupta.

He said it was observed that higher waist circumference was associated with an increased breast cancer risk in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women.

“Compared to other ethnic groups, Asian women have been previously reported to be associated with an increased breast cancer risk associated with larger waist-to-hip ratio, one of the markers of central obesity,” said Gupta.

Doctors say lack of awareness and lack of screening continues to be a major contributor to late representation of breast cancer patients. “The survival rate increases if the breast cancer is diagnosed and treated at an early stage.  Presence of lump or mass in the breast/underarm is one of the most common symptoms of breast cancer. While 90% of these breast lumps in women are non-cancerous and can be due to breast infection, fibrocystic breast disease, non-cancerous tumour or a damaged tissue, consulting a doctor is must,” said Dr Vinay Deshmane, cancer surgeon at PD Hinduja Hospital.