BMI: A Starting Point for a Healthy Weight

The health risks of obesity have been in the news lately, including in our latest report showing a link between obesity and ovarian cancer risk. The stories have sparked a lot of conversation about BMI (Body Mass Index), a number used to easily determine a person’s body fatness. Young man measuring his weight on weighing scale in clinic

Maybe you know your own BMI. But what is BMI and what does it mean to you?

The formula for BMI is:
weight (kilograms) divided by height (meters)2
or
weight (pounds) divided by height (inches)2  x 703

A BMI of 18.5 – 24.9 is considered healthy; 25-29.9 overweight and 30 and above obese.

BMI is very useful for studies looking at a large number of people and trying to determine if, on average, BMI links to disease risk or health status in some way. But for individuals, BMI is a starting point to determine whether your weight is in the healthy range for you. Continue reading


Obesity and Breast Cancer Survival: Talking with Anne McTiernan

Today’s issue of Cancer Research Update highlights a new analysis of the research suggesting that obesity links to poorer survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer. The research adds to a complex and evolving field of research on lifestyle and survivorship.Tiernan photo

The findings in this paper add to the body of knowledge, but they are not proof that weight loss in overweight or obese women will improve survival, says Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, one of the authors of the new paper and a Continuous Update Project expert panelist.

Here, Dr. McTiernan — the Director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center — talks about the study and what it means for breast cancer survivors.

Q: This study is the first to look at BMI pre- and post-diagnosis, and 12 months following diagnosis. Why was it important to look at these three points?

A: While it’s interesting to know what effect BMI before diagnosis has, women want to know what they can do now, for their future. So it’s important to look at the post-diagnosis period. Continue reading


Analysis: Obesity Links to Earlier Mortality for Breast Cancer Survivors

A new study involving the emerging research on lifestyle’s role in breast cancer survivorship suggests that obesity — both before and after a breast cancer diagnosis — is associated with earlier death from cancer or other causes, compared to women at a healthy weight. Survivor

The paper was published yesterday in the Annals of Oncology. It adds to a complex and relatively new area of research: what survivors can do to lengthen life and stay healthy.

In a major report on breast cancer survivorship due this Fall, World Cancer Research Fund International’s Continuous Update Project (CUP) expert panel will consider this latest paper as it works to shape official recommendations for cancer survivors. AICR is the US member of World Cancer Research Fund International.

The Annals of Oncology paper was written by a team of scientists involved in the CUP, including Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, Director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The paper found that “increased body size is significantly related to survival after a diagnosis of breast cancer…” said Dr. McTiernan. But the findings are not proof, she says, more research is needed. Continue reading