2013 Volume 23 Issue 2 Pages 139-145
Background: We analyzed data from the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study (36 164 women aged 40–79 years at baseline in 1988–1990 with no previous diagnosis of breast cancer and available information on weight and height) to examine the association between baseline body mass index (BMI)/weight gain from age 20 years and breast cancer risk in a non-Western population.
Methods: The participants were followed prospectively from enrollment until 1999–2003 (median follow-up: 12.3 years). During follow-up, breast cancer incidence was mainly confirmed through record linkage to population-based cancer registries. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for the association between breast cancer risk and body size.
Results: In 397 644.1 person-years of follow-up, we identified 234 breast cancer cases. Among postmenopausal women, the adjusted HR increased with BMI, with a significant linear trend (P < 0.0001). Risk was significantly increased among women with a BMI of 24 or higher (HR: 1.50, 95% CI: 1.09–2.08 for BMI of 24–28.9, and 2.13, 1.09–4.16 for BMI ≥ 29) as compared with women with a BMI of 20 to 23.9. Weight gain after age 20 years and consequent overweight/obesity were combined risk factors for postmenopausal breast cancer risk. This combined effect was stronger among women aged 60 years or older. However, the HRs were not significant in premenopausal women.
Conclusions: Our findings support the hypothesis that weight gain and consequent overweight/obesity are combined risk factors for breast cancer among postmenopausal women, particularly those aged 60 years or older.