It’s no boon for the body positivity movement that being “curvy” or plus size means a greater probability of death by breast cancer.
This is because having a higher body mass index correlates to a greater chance of failing to detect a breast cancer while it’s still in an early (and more curable) stage.
This information comes from the Radiological Society of North America. The RSNA recommends shorter intervals between mammograms for plus size women.
A body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more is considered overweight.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden wanted to identify risk factors that were associated with failing to detect tumors while they were smaller than two centimeters.
The two centimeter size is one of the distinguishing parameters for stage 1 and 2 cancers.
Further, size of tumor is a prognostic factor.
• 2,012 cases of invasive breast cancer were explored.
• Diagnoses occurred between 2001 and 2008.
• Patients were followed til the end of 2015.
• Disease progression, BMI and breast density were evaluated.
• For tumors detected at screening, BMI and breast density were tied to large tumor size at diagnosis.
• For tumors that were detected within two years (interval cancers) of a negative mammogram, only the body mass index was correlated to having a large tumor.
Higher BMI meant a worse prognosis when compared to a lower BMI among the interval cancers.
Breast density was not an issue with disease progression.
Study co-author Fredrik Strand, MD, ra adiologist at the Karolinska University Hospital, believes that BMI should be part of the breast cancer screening process.
“In addition, our findings suggest that women with high BMI should consider shorter time intervals between screenings,” says Dr. Strand in the paper.
The bad news doesn’t stop there for plus size women. The paper adds that high body mass index contributes to poorer prognosis via the molecular composition of the cancers, plus their hormone receptor expression levels.
• The intervals were 18-24 months (typical in Sweden) rather than 12 months (more typical in the U.S.).
• Sweden has fewer women with high BMI.