Postmenopausal overweight and breast cancer risk; results from the KARMA cohort

Marie Klintman, Ann H. Rosendahl, Benjamin Randeris, Mikael Eriksson, Kamila Czene, Per Hall, Signe Borgquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To study the risk of incident breast cancer and subtype-specific breast cancer in relation to excess body weight in a contemporary Swedish prospective cohort study, The Karolinska Mammography Project for Risk Prediction of Breast Cancer, KARMA. Methods: A total of 35,412 postmenopausal women attending mammography and included in the KARMA study provided baseline data on body mass index (BMI) and potential confounders. During eight years of follow-up, 822 incident invasive breast cancer cases were identified. Results: Women with overweight (BMI ≥ 25–< 30 kg/m2) constituting 34% of the study cohort had an increased risk of incident breast cancer with an adjusted Hazard Ratio (HRadj) 1.19 (95% CI 1.01–1.4). A similar, however, non-significant, association was found for women with obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) conferring 13% of the cohort, with a HRadj of 1.19 (95% CI 0.94–1.5). Overweight was associated with risk of node-negative disease (HRadj 1.29, 95% CI 1.06–1.58), whereas obesity was associated with node-positive disease (HRadj 1.64, 95% CI 1.09–2.48). Both overweight and obesity were associated with risk of estrogen receptor positive (ER+) disease (HRadj 1.20, 95% CI 1.00–1.44 and HRadj 1.33, 95% CI 1.03–1.71, respectively), and low-grade tumors (HRadj 1.25, 95% CI 1.02–1.54, and HRadj 1.40, 95% CI 1.05–1.86, respectively). Finally, obesity was associated with ER+HER2 negative disease (HRadj 1.37, 95% CI 1.05–1.78) and similarly luminal A tumors (HRadj 1.43, 95% CI 1.02–2.01). Conclusion: Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer, specifically ER+, low-grade, and for obesity, node-positive, high-risk breast cancer indicating a further need for risk communication and preventive programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-196
Number of pages12
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology

Free keywords

  • BMI
  • Breast cancer risk
  • Breast cancer subtypes
  • Obesity
  • Overweight


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