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Obesity Might Reduce Effectiveness of Aromatase Inhibitors

Posted Jun 18 2010 7:16am
Endocrine or hormone therapy is an important form of breast cancer therapy for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers.  Endocrine therapy is done using either estrogen receptor inhibitors like tamoxifen , which block the action of estrogen, or aromatase inhibitors, like anastrozole , which prevent the production of estrogen.  One of the ways that obesity is thought to increase breast cancer risk is through production of estrogens by fat tissues; however, the impact of body weight on the effectiveness of hormone therapy for breast cancer is uncertain.

In a new study, breast cancer researchers investigated the effect of body mass on breast cancer recurrence in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen or the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole.  Postmenopausal women diagnosed with early-stage hormone receptor-positive breast cancer were followed for about 100 months after treatment began on average.  The breast cancer investigators reported that
  • Obese postmenopausal women were about 40% more likely to develop local breast cancer recurrence compared to postmenopausal women with a normal body weight.
  • Obese postmenopausal women were also about 46% more likely to develop distant breast cancer recurrence.
  • At all levels of body weight, breast cancer recurrence was lower in women treated with the aromatase inhibitor compared to the estrogen blocker.
  • The effectiveness of the aromatase inhibitor was slightly greater in women with a low BMI compared to overweight women.
Like previous studies , this new breast cancer research reports that being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence.  However, this study also suggests that being overweight or obese might impact the effectiveness of aromatase inhibitors such that they might be less effective.  The study investigators suggest that higher doses of aromatase inhibitors or more effective inhibitors might be needed in overweight breast cancer patients to further reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.  This research continues to show the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight to reduce one's risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is only one of many lifestyle changes we can all make to reduce our personal risk of breast cancer.  Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer to learn what else you can do!
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