Association between serum leptin levels and breast cancer risk: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis

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Many studies have indicated that leptin is correlated with breast cancer occurrence and tumor behavior. However, this issue remains controversial. Therefore, we conducted an updated meta-analysis to investigate the role of leptin in breast cancer.


We performed a systematic literature search and identified relevant papers up to 1 September 2017. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to evaluate effect sizes.


Thirty-five eligible studies were included in the current meta-analysis. Serum leptin levels were related to breast cancer risk as demonstrated by calculations of the overall SMD = 0.46 (95% CI = 0.31-0.60, I2 = 93.5%). A subgroup analysis of BMI identified an association between breast cancer and serum leptin levels in patients who are overweight and obese (overweight: SMD = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.13–0.57, I2 = 88.1%; obesity: SMD = 1.38, 95% CI = 0.64–2.12, I2 = 89.6%). Additionally, menopausal status subgroup analysis revealed a significant association in postmenopausal women (SMD = 0.26, 95% CI = 0.12–0.40, I2 = 77.9%). Furthermore, we identified a significant association between breast cancer and serum leptin levels in Chinese women (SMD = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.44–0.79, I2 = 40.6%).


The results of this meta-analysis suggested that leptin could be a potential biomarker for breast cancer risk in women, especially overweight/obese or postmenopausal women. Therefore, it may be useful for identifying subjects with a high risk for breast cancer who may benefit from preventive treatments.

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