Effects of adiposity and exercise on breast tissue and systemic metabo-inflammatory factors in women at high risk or diagnosed with breast cancer

Neil M. Iyengar, Xi Kathy Zhou, Hillary Mendieta, Dilip D. Giri, Omar El-Hely, Lisle Winston, Domenick J. Falcone, Hanhan Wang, Lingsong Meng, Jonathan Landa, Michael Pollak, Laurie Kirstein, Monica Morrow, Andrew J. Dannenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Excess body fat and sedentary behavior are associated with increased breast cancer risk and mortality, including in normal weight women. To investigate underlying mechanisms, we examined whether adiposity and exercise impact the breast microenvironment (e.g., inflammation and aromatase expression) and circulating metabo-inflammatory factors. In a cross-sectional cohort study, breast white adipose tissue (WAT) and blood were collected from 100 women undergoing mastectomy for breast cancer risk reduction or treatment. Self-reported exercise behavior, body composition measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and waist:hip ratio were obtained prior to surgery. Breast WAT inflammation (B-WATi) was assessed by IHC and aromatase expression was assessed by quantitative PCR. Metabolic and inflammatory blood biomarkers that are predictive of breast cancer risk and progression were measured. B-WATi was present in 56 of 100 patients and was associated with older age, elevated BMI, postmenopausal status, decreased exercise, hypertension and dyslipidemia (Ps < 0.001). Total body fat and trunk fat correlated with B-WATi and breast aromatase levels (Ps < 0.001). Circulating C-reactive protein, IL6, insulin, and leptin positively correlated with body fat and breast aromatase levels, while negative correlations were observed for adiponectin and sex hormone binding globulin (P < 0.001). Inverse relationships were observed with exercise (Ps < 0.05). In a subgroup of 39 women with normal BMI, body fat levels positively correlated with B-WATi and aromatase expression (Ps < 0.05). In conclusion, elevated body fat levels and decreased exercise are associated with protumorigenic micro- and host environments in normal, overweight, and obese individuals. These findings support the development of BMI-agnostic lifestyle interventions that target adiposity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-550
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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