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Open Access Research

Obesity, diabetes mellitus, and the risk of female breast cancer in Eastern China

Xiao-Lei Wang1, Cun-Xian Jia1*, Li-Yuan Liu1, Qiang Zhang2, Yu-Yang Li2 and Liang Li2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Shandong University, 44 Wenhuaxi Road, Lixia district, Jinan, Shandong, 250012, China

2 Breast Disease Department, the Second Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, 250033, China

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World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2013, 11:71  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-11-71

Published: 16 March 2013



This study was designed to explore the relationship between obesity, diabetes mellitus (DM), and female breast cancer in Eastern China.


A 1:3 matched case–control study was carried out, comprising 123 women with breast cancer and 369 controls. All of the 492 subjects were selected from a previous epidemiological survey of 122,058 women in Eastern China.


There were significant differences between the case and control groups in waist circumference and body mass index (BMI), but not in waist to hip ratio or hip circumference. There was a significant difference between the two groups in BMI for post-menopausal women, and a significant difference in waist circumference for pre-menopausal women. After adjustment for other factors, BMI was still significantly associated with breast cancer (odds ratio (OR) = 1.58, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14 to 2.19). DM was significantly associated with breast cancer (OR = 3.35, 95% CI 1.02 to 11.01) in the univariate analysis but not in the multivariate analysis (P = 0.059).


Obesity might be a risk factor for female breast cancer. We found different strengths of association for women with different menopausal status when we examined the relationship between obesity and breast cancer. The association between DM and female breast cancer should be further confirmed with larger sample sizes.

Breast cancer; Female; Obesity; Diabetes mellitus; Case–control study