Breast cancer risk actually decreases as women under 55 gain weight, study shows

A new, large-scale breast cancer study of women who had not yet reached menopause produced a surprising result: as body fat increased, their cancer risk decreased.

The finding runs directly counter to what we know about breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women, where the risk increases as a woman’s body mass index, or BMI, climbs.

But for younger women it was the opposite.

Dr. [Hazel] Nichols and her team collected and analyzed data from 19 different studies that encompassed nearly 760,000 women younger than age 55. Researchers determined an inverse weight-risk relationship for those in this group.

[Y]ounger women should not take these findings as encouragement to gain weight as a protective measure.

“This study is not a reason to try to gain weight to prevent breast cancer,” she stated. “Heavier women have a lower overall risk of breast cancer before menopause, but there are a lot of other benefits to managing a healthy weight that should be considered. What it does do is help us to try to understand what contributes to breast cancer risk in younger women.”

Related article:  Viewpoint: No, the placebo effect is not increasing, but bedside manners do impact perceived drug efficacy

Theorizing about the connection, Dr. Nichols says several factors could be contributing to the link: breast density, or hormone differences – including estrogen – where premenopausal levels are different from those measured after menopause occurs.

Read full, original post: For Younger Women, Breast-Cancer Risk Lessens With Weight Gain, Study Finds

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