Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis Overestimates Fat‐Free Mass in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Treatment Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is commonly used to assess fat-free mass (FFM) and fat mass (FM) in breast cancer patients. However, because of the prevalence of overweight, obesity and variable hydration status in these patients, assumptions for existing prediction equations developed in healthy adults may be violated, resulting in inaccurate body composition assessment. METHODS: We measured whole-body FFM using single-frequency BIA (50 kHz) and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in 48 patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer. We applied raw BIA data to 18 previously published FFM prediction equations (FFMBIA ) and compared these estimates to DXA (FFMDXA ; reference method). RESULTS: On average, patients were 52 ± 10 (mean ± SD) years of age and overweight (body mass index: 27.5 ± 5.5 kg/m2 ; body fat by DXA: 40.1% ± 6.6%). Relative to DXA, BIA overestimated FFM by 4.1 ± 3.4 kg (FFMDXA : 42.0 ± 5.9 kg; FFMBIA : 46.1 ± 3.4 kg). Individual equation-generated predictions of FFMBIA ranged from 39.6 ± 6.7 to 52.2 ± 5.6 kg, with 16 equations overestimating and 2 equations underestimating FFMBIA compared with FFMDXA . Based on equivalence testing, no equation-generated estimates were equivalent to DXA. CONCLUSION: Compared with DXA, BIA overestimated FFM in breast cancer patients during treatment. Although several equations performed better than others, none produced values that aligned closely with DXA. Caution should be used when interpreting BIA measurements in this clinical population, and future studies should develop prediction equations specific to breast cancer patients.


  • Bell, Kirsten Elizabeth
  • Schmidt, Schuyler
  • Pfeiffer, Amanda
  • Bos, Lisa
  • Earthman, Carrie
  • Russell, Caryl
  • Mourtzakis, Marina

publication date

  • December 2020