In the general population, obesity and inadequate metabolic health are recognized as controllable risk factors that could potentially lead to the onset of breast cancer. A recent study published in Science Translational Medicine suggests that obesity may increase the likelihood of breast cancer development in those who are already at a higher risk of the disease.

In the study, researchers evaluated noncancerous breast tissue samples from patients who had BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations and had gone through mastectomies by categorizing them into two groups: those with a body mass index (BMI) under 25 kg/m2 and those with a BMI of at least 25 kg/m2 or more. The researchers found that greater BMI in those who had BRCA mutations were positively linked to DNA damage in mammary glands from using immunofluorescence. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that by exposing tissue samples to metformin, they could lower the levels of DNA damage. The researchers concluded that those carrying BRCA mutations may be able to decrease their risk of developing breast cancer by maintaining a lower body weight or by using medication to target estrogen or metabolic dysfunction.

Reference: The ASCO Post Staff. Obesity May Contribute to Breast Cancer Risk in High-Risk Patients With BRCA Mutations. The ASCO Post. Updated March 28, 2023. Accessed April 12, 2023.