Body mass index and risk of luminal, HER2-overexpressing, and triple negative breast cancer. Academic Article uri icon


  • Triple negative (TN, tumors that do not express estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)) and HER2-overexpressing (H2E, ER-/HER2+) tumors are two particularly aggressive subtypes of breast cancer. There is a lack of knowledge regarding the etiologies of these cancers and in particular how anthropometric factors are related to risk. We conducted a population-based case-case study consisting of 2659 women aged 20-69 years diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from 2004 to 2012. Four case groups defined based on joint ER/PR/HER2 status were included: TN, H2E, luminal A (ER+/HER2-), and luminal B (ER+/HER2+). Polytomous logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and associated 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) where luminal A patients served as the reference group. Obese premenopausal women [body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m(2)] had an 82 % (95 % CI 1.32-2.51) increased risk of TN breast cancer compared to women whose BMI <25 kg/m(2), and those in the highest weight quartile (quartiles were categorized based on the distribution among luminal A patients) had a 79 % (95 % CI 1.23-2.64) increased risk of TN disease compared to those in the lowest quartile. Among postmenopausal women obesity was associated with reduced risks of both TN (OR = 0.74, 95 % CI 0.54-1.00) and H2E (OR = 0.47, 95 % CI 0.32-0.69) cancers. Our results suggest obesity has divergent impacts on risk of aggressive subtypes of breast cancer in premenopausal versus postmenopausal women, which may contribute to the higher incidence rates of TN cancers observed among younger African American and Hispanic women.

publication date

  • May 2016