In a recent study, a group of scientists found that postmenopausal women who lose weight may have a significantly reduced chance of developing breast cancer.
Researchers said that even ‘relatively modest’ weight loss has a considerable effect on the risk of the disease, according to Express.co.uk. Four out of five cases of breast cancer occur after menopause, according to the charity Breast Cancer Now, which said women could significantly cut their risk if they follow a healthy lifestyle.
Talking about the research, Rowan Chlebowski, research professor in the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research at City of Hope in Duarte, California, said, “Breast cancer is among the leading types of cancer and causes of death in American women. Obesity rates have been increasing in the United States. We wanted to determine if there was a link between obesity and breast cancer risk.”
The study analysed data from more than 60,000 women and found that over 3,000 developed invasive breast cancer over the following 11-12 years. Researchers analysed data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study, tracking postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79.
They looked at the participants who had a normal mammogram, no prior breast cancer, and were not underweight, taking measurements for height and weight at the start and three years later. To start with, 41 % of the women were normal weight, 34 % were overweight and 25 % were obese.
Compared to women with stable weight, those who had a 5 % or more decrease in weight were 12 % less likely to develop breast cancer. Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, noted, “This important study provides further, clear evidence that postmenopausal women can significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer by taking steps to lose weight. Being overweight after the menopause does increase your risk of the disease, likely because fat tissue becomes a women’s main source of oestrogen after the menopause.”
In her concluding remarks, Morgan said, “With breast cancer incidence continuing to rise, we need to do much more to enable women and men of all ages to reduce their risk. It’s so important to remember that we can all reduce our breast cancer risk through various lifestyle factors, including keeping physically active, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and lowering our alcohol intake.”