Background: Weight cycling, defined by an intentional weight loss and subsequent regain, commonly occurs in overweight and obese women and is associated with some negative health outcomes. We examined the role of various weight-change patterns during early to mid-adulthood and associated risk of highly prevalent, obesity-related cancers (breast, endometrial, and colorectal) in postmenopausal women.
Methods: A total of 80,943 postmenopausal women (age, 63.4 ± 7.4 years) in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study were categorized by self-reported weight change (weight stable; weight gain; lost weight; weight cycled [1–3, 4–6, 7–10, >10 times]) during early to mid-adulthood (18–50 years). Three site-specific associations were investigated using Cox proportional hazard models [age, race/ethnicity, income, education, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, hormone therapy, diet, and body mass index (BMI)].
Results: A total of 7,464 (breast = 5,564; endometrial = 788; and colorectal = 1,290) incident cancer cases were identified between September 1994 and August 2014. Compared with weight stability, weight gain was significantly associated with risk of breast cancer [hazard ratio (HR), 1.11; 1.03–1.20] after adjustment for BMI. Similarly, weight cycling was significantly associated with risk of endometrial cancer (HR = 1.23; 1.01–1.49). Weight cycling “4 to 6 times” was most consistently associated with cancer risk, showing a 38% increased risk for endometrial cancer [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.08–1.76] compared with weight stable women.
Conclusions: Weight gain and weight cycling were positively associated with risk of breast and endometrial cancer, respectively.
Impact: These data suggest weight cycling and weight gain increase risk of prevalent cancers in postmenopausal women. Adopting ideal body-weight maintenance practices before and after weight loss should be encouraged to reduce risk of incident breast and endometrial cancers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 26(5); 1–8. ©2017 AACR.
- Received August 2, 2016.
- Revision received December 16, 2016.
- Accepted December 31, 2016.
- ©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.