It’s October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’ve seen great progress in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease in the last 30 years, leading to a significant increase in survival rates. However, we all know there is still a long way to go before we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that breast cancer is a thing of the past.
For us, October brings us the opportunity to highlight some of the ways we can reduce the risk of breast cancer through weight loss. Research has shown that there is a clear link between higher weights and breast cancer development. In a 13-year follow-up study of over 67,000 women published in JAMA Oncology, researchers found that the risk of breast cancer is 58 percent higher for postmenopausal women suffering from obesity than for healthy-weight women. In addition, women who gained more than 5 percent of their body weight had an increased risk, while women who lost weight during the study decreased their risk.
In another study published in JAMA, it was shown that women who lost four to eleven pound after menopause reduced the risk of breast cancer by more than 20 percent compared to women whose weight remained the same. Women who gained 20 pounds after age 18 increased their risk by 15% and women who gained 55 pounds had a 45 percent higher risk.
We could fill volumes writing about all of the research supporting the fact that obesity increases breast cancer risk, but we’d rather talk more about ways you can prevent it by losing weight and controlling it for the long-term.
So, we ask you, please, come talk to us if you suspect that your weight might contribute to increased risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if you have a family history of the disease. We’ll provide a screening of your weight, BMI, and body composition (including fat percentage), and discuss the ways to reduce your breast cancer risk through healthy lifestyle changes. It might be the best thing you do for yourself, and for the honor of breast cancer awareness, this October.