Insulin Resistance Linked To Worse Advanced Breast Cancer Prognosis Interview with:
Dr Nicoletta Provinciali, MD

Oncologist from the E.O. Ospedali Galliera
Genoa, Italy

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Provinciali: We know that higher insulin levels have been associated with a worse prognosis in early breast cancer patients.

In this study we wanted to evaluate the impact of insulin resistance on metastatic breast cancer patients receiving first line chemotherapy. We found that insulin resistance status together with the endocrine status had an adverse prognostic effect.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Provinciali:  

  1. Although the effect of higher insulin levels is already known in early breast cancer patients, this is the first time that insulin resistance, where the body’s inefficient use of insulin leads to the production of an excess, has been shown to lead to a worse outcome for metastatic breast cancer patients.
  1. After taking into account other factors likely to affect PFS and OS in these patients, such as age and body mass index (BMI), we found that higher insulin levels were an independent factor leading to a worse prognosis in patients with advanced breast cancer.
  2.  As metabolic status influences breast cancer prognosis, additional alternative strategies, targeting host metabolism, should be considered.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Provinciali: We need to perform more trials which better explain how it is possible to correct metabolic factors in order to improve the prognosis of these patients.

The use of drugs, such as metformin, or life-style changes, such as diet and physical activity, should be investigated with this purpose.


Abstract presented at the 3rd Advanced Breast Cancer Conference (ABC3) in Lisbon on Thursday 5 November

Higher insulin is an independent prognostic factor in advanced breast cancer: patients may be helped by simple lifestyle changes

Dr Nicoletta Provinciali, MD (2015). Insulin Resistance Linked To Worse Advanced Breast Cancer Prognosis