False-Positive Mammos More Common for Those Overweight

Researchers say obesity epidemic will make problem more widespread

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TUESDAY, May 25, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Overweight or obese women are more likely to get a false positive mammography screening result than normal weight and underweight women, says a study in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle analyzed results of 100,622 screening mammographies.

"Compared with underweight or normal weight women, overweight and obese women were more likely to be recalled for additional tests after adjusting ... for age and breast density," the study authors wrote.

They found overweight women were 17 percent more likely to be recalled for additional testing while obese women were 27 percent to 31 percent more likely to be recalled for more testing.

"A woman's weight may influence the accuracy of screening mammography in several important ways," the authors wrote.

"Obese women had more than a 20 percent increased risk of having a false-positive mammogram result compared with underweight and normal weight women. We did not find statistically significant improvements in sensitivity in obese women to counter this increase in false-positive rates. Understanding the quality of mammography among obese women is important, especially since the American population is becoming more obese and obesity is a modifiable risk factor," the authors wrote.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about screening mammograms.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives, news release, May 24, 2004

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