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Healthy Body Weight and Breast Cancer

According to researchers, gaining more than 20 pounds after age 18 puts women at a higher risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. The American Cancer Society (ACS) conducted a study of over 62,000 postmenopausal women, documenting height, current weight, weight at age 18, and use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Additional risk factors associated with breast cancer were then factored in. The results indicated that women who gained over 20 pounds since age 18 had a 40% increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who stayed within 5 pounds of their weight at age 18. Those who had gained more than 70 pounds increased their risk by almost 80%.

What should you do to reduce your weight to reduce your risk of breast cancer?



The ACS recommends losing any excess weight by using a combination of healthy eating habits and following a structured exercise program, and then maintaining the weight loss by staying physically active. Even if you are not overweight, physical activity will reduce your risk. If you are extremely overweight, consult your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise regimen.


You should also limit alcohol consumption and avoid HRT if at all possible. HRT is such a high risk factor that excess body weight does not even come into play when put up against HRT. Both raise estrogen levels, but as stated on the American Cancer Society website, "HRT raises estrogen so much that even a lot of extra weight has only a minimal effect by comparison."


References and Other Resources:

Mayo Clinic: "Breast cancer prevention: Lifestyle factors that can reduce risk," Mayo Clinic

Boyd, M.D., Norman, et al,: "Rationale for the Diet and Breast Cancer Prevention Study," OCI/PMH

MedicineNet: "Breast Cancer Prevention," MedicineNet

 
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