Obese women not getting as much benefit from breast cancer drugs: Study

QMI Agency


Obese women may not respond to hormone-suppressing drugs used in breast cancer treatment the same way normal-weight women do, a new British study has found.

After treatment, the levels of the hormone estrogen go down but still remain much higher in obese women than women of normal weight, the study from the Institute of Cancer Research in London and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust found. In some cases, obese women had three times as much estrogen than women of normal weight.

More than three-quarters of breast cancers require estrogen to grow, the researchers noted. One of the main ways of treating the disease is to block the hormone's production or action.

The researchers said the results show doctors may need to take other approaches to treating breast cancer patients.

"Women with higher BMIs (body mass index) should certainly not be alarmed by this finding or stop taking their treatment. Our study takes us a step closer to understanding which of the treatment options available might be the most suitable for individual women," senior author Mitch Dowsett said in a release about the study Monday.

"Our findings are based on laboratory studies, so we would need to carry out clinical trials to tell us whether women with a higher BMI would benefit from changes to their treatment."

The research was published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.