Obese women have higher risk of aggressive breast tumors and distant metastasis. However, obesity has rarely been assessed in association with metastasis in diverse populations.


In the Carolina Breast Cancer Study Phase 3 (2008–2013), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), body mass index (BMI), and molecular subtype [PAM50 risk-of-recurrence (ROR) score] were assessed. Obesity measures were evaluated in association with metastasis within five years of diagnosis, overall and stratified by race and ROR score. Absolute risk of metastasis and risk differences between strata were calculated using the Kaplan–Meier estimator, adjusted for age, grade, stage, race, and ER status. Relative frequency of metastatic site and multiplicity were estimated in association with obesity using generalized linear models.


High-WHR was associated with higher risk of metastasis (5-year risk difference, RD, 4.3%; 95% confidence interval, 2.2–6.5). It was also associated with multiple metastases and metastases at all sites except brain. The 5-year risk of metastasis differed by race (11.2% and 6.9% in Black and non-Black, respectively) and ROR score (19.5% vs. 6.6% in high vs. low-to-intermediate ROR-PT). Non-Black women and those with low-to-intermediate ROR scores had similar risk in high- and low-WHR strata. However, among Black women and those with high ROR, risk of metastasis was elevated among high-WHR (RDBlack/non-Black = 4.6%, RDHigh/Low-Int = 3.1%). Patterns of metastasis were similar by BMI.


WHR is associated with metastatic risk, particularly among Black women and those with high-risk tumors.


Understanding how risk factors for metastasis interact may help in tailoring care plans and surveillance among patients with breast cancer.

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