Obesity and breast cancer: A complex relationship

Victoria M. Gershuni, Rexford S. Ahima, Julia Tchou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


As prevalence of obesity continues to rise in the United States, we are beginning to elucidate the complex role of obesity-associated chronic inflammation, endocrine dysfunction, and hormone production as a driver for increased breast cancer risk. Epidemiological data suggest that obesity (BMI [ 30) is associated with increased breast cancer incidence, worse prognosis, and higher mortality rates. Mechanistically, obesity and excess fat mass represent a state of chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, adipokine imbalance, and increased estrogen signaling. This pro-tumorigenic environment stimulates cancer development through abnormal growth, proliferation, and survival of mammary tissue. Importantly, obesity is a modifiable risk factor; alterations in cell proliferation, apoptosis, circulating estrogen, and insulin sensitivity are observed in response to weight loss attainable through behavior modification including dietary and exercise changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalCurrent Surgery Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adipocyte
  • Adipokines
  • Adiponectin
  • Aromatase
  • BMI
  • Breast cancer
  • Estrogen receptor Leptin
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Overweight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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