Initially 4,888 non diabetic women, ages 50 to 79, were involved in the study and over eight years they were periodically tested for components of metabolic syndrome as part of their participation in the Women’s Health Initiative study. In that course time, 165 of them received breast cancer diagnoses.

The presence of metabolic syndrome at the start of the study was not linked to breast cancer risk. However, women who had the metabolic syndrome during the three to five years prior to breast cancer diagnosis had roughly a doubling of risk, said researcher Geoffrey C. Kabat, senior epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

In addition, study found that there the risk was twice with high diastolic blood pressure alone, whereas elevated triglyceride and glucose levels were individually caused about 1.7 times increased risk.

It is evident that metabolic syndrome associated with poor diet and lack of exercise can increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

This study suggests that having the metabolic syndrome itself or some of its components may increase a woman’s risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, Kabat said. However, much more work is needed to understand the role of these metabolic factors and their interplay with better established breast cancer risk factors, such as reproductive and hormonal factors.