Obesity, Diabetes and Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk


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“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”



Obesity and diabetes have both been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer (including breast cancer), as discussed in detail in my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  (The single greatest risk factor for adult-onset diabetes is obesity.)

Not only have obesity and diabetes been strongly linked to an increased risk of developing cancer, but these two chronic illnesses, which have become epidemic in our modern culture, also appear to increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence, and death due to recurrent breast cancer.  Two newly published clinical research studies, which appear in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, reveal just how strongly obesity and diabetes impact the incidence of breast cancer recurrence, and death due to breast cancer, among women who have previously been diagnosed with this common form of cancer.

In the first study, the impact of obesity on breast cancer recurrence, and the risk of death due to breast cancer, was assessed among 18,967 women with a previous diagnosis of breast cancer in Denmark.   Using body mass index (BMI) scores, which indicate whether a person is obese or not, the findings of this study were quite concerning.  (A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 indicates a healthy weight, while a BMI of 25 to 29.9 indicates that a person is overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity.)

In this very large public health study with long-term follow-up, female breast cancer survivors with a BMI of 30 or more (when compared to women with a BMI below 25) were, stage-for-stage, 46 percent more likely to be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer within 10 years of their original diagnosis, and 38 percent more likely to die of metastatic breast cancer within 30 years of their original breast cancer diagnosis.

In the second study, 604 women with a prior diagnosis of breast cancer were evaluated with a blood test that measures insulin secretion levels (serum C-peptide).  Fasting C-peptide levels were measured in these breast cancer survivors 3 years after their initial cancer diagnosis, and this group of research volunteers was then followed for about a decade.  In this study, a 1nanogram per milliliter (ng/mL) increase in serum C-peptide levels, even among women without diabetes, was associated with a 31 percent increase in the risk of death from any cause over the duration of this study.  This same miniscule 1 ng/mL increase in C-peptide blood levels was also associated with a 35 percent increase in the risk of death specifically due to breast cancer.  (The increased risk of death associated with rising C-peptide levels among women with diabetes was even higher.)  Thus, this study is one of the first ever to show that rising levels of insulin secretion in women either with or without diabetes is associated with a significantly higher risk of death due to recurrent breast cancer.

Taken together, the findings of these two very important clinical studies add to the findings of previous studies that have linked both obesity and diabetes with an increased likelihood of breast cancer recurrence and death due to recurrent breast cancer.  These, and other, clinical studies also continue to show that the chemotherapy and hormonal therapy that is routinely given following the diagnosis of breast cancer appears to be less effective in obese women and in diabetic women, when compared to women without either of these chronic illnesses.  The findings of these studies also mirror cancer risk and cancer prevention studies that have linked breast cancer risk with both obesity and diabetes.

If you have a history of breast cancer, and you are significantly overweight, then it is essential that you discuss a prudent weight loss program with your doctor, including a healthy diet and a regimen of regular aerobic exercise (as discussed in my new book).  Likewise, if you have diabetes, both weight loss interventions and tight control of your diabetes are essential for reducing your risk of breast cancer recurrence, and your overall risk of premature death from cancer and other serious illnesses associated with diabetes.


For a complete discussion of the role of obesity, diabetes, diet, and exercise in cancer prevention, and other important evidence-based approaches to cancer prevention, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, now!  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!


GIVE  THE  GIFT  OF  HEALTH  THIS  HOLIDAY  SEASON!  For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores! 


On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.comTop 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books!  On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!

Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author

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One Comment on "Obesity, Diabetes and Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk"

  1. Anisa Lanes on Tue, 10th Jan 2012 2:04 pm 

    I like this post, enjoyed this one. Thank you for putting it up.

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