Obesity at age 20 and weight gain during adulthood increase risk of total and premature all-cause mortality: Findings from women attending breast screening in Manchester

M. Pegington, M. Harvie, E. F. Harkness, A. Brentnall, L. Malcomson, J. Southworth, Jill Fox, Anthony Howell, Jack Cuzick, D. Gareth Evans

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Abstract

Background
Obesity in early adulthood is associated with lower breast cancer rates in later life. This could be interpreted as a positive reinforcement of excess weight amongst younger women however, the wider implications of higher weights are less well known. This study examined the association between both obesity in early adulthood and body mass index (BMI) change through adulthood, and all-cause mortality.

Methods
The Predicting Risk of Cancer At Screening (PROCAS) study recruited 57,902 women aged 46–73 years (median age 57.2, IQR 51.8–63.7 years) from the Greater Manchester National Health Service breast screening programme in North West England between 2009 and 2015. It was used to assess associations between BMI at 20 years and cohort entry with all-cause mortality ascertained via deaths recorded on the National Breast Screening System to June 2020. Hazard ratios were estimated using proportional hazards (Cox) regression adjusted for factors at entry to the cohort: age, deprivation, bilateral oophorectomy, hormone-replacement therapy, menopausal status, ethnicity, alcohol intake, physical activity, and BMI.

Results
The prevalence of overweight (25–30 kg/m2) and obesity (> 30 kg/m2) were 10.4% and 2.5% respectively at 20 years, increasing to 35.2% and 25.9% respectively at cohort entry. After a mean 8.7 years follow-up we observed that overweight (HR = 1.27, 95%CI = 1.10–1.47) and obesity (HR = 2.11, 95%CI = 1.67–2.66) at 20 years had a higher mortality rate compared with healthy weight. Women who were underweight/healthy weight at 20 years and gained weight to obesity at entry had a slightly increased mortality rate compared with women who were underweight/healthy weight at both time points (HR 1.16, 95%CI = 1.02–1.32). Women with overweight (HR = 1.36, 95%CI = 1.06–1.75) or obesity (HR = 1.90, 95%CI = 1.45–2.48) at both 20 years and entry had a higher mortality rate than women who were underweight/healthy weight at both points.

Conclusions
Women who self-reported overweight and obesity at 20 years had a shorter life expectancy in this cohort of women attending breast cancer screening. Weight gain from 20 years was common in this group. Girls and women should be supported to maintain a healthy weight throughout the lifespan to help increase life expectancy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Women's Health
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2023

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre

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