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Friday, April 25, 2008

The No. 1 Way to Not Get Breast Cancer

There is one thing more than any other that women can do throughout their lives to protect themselves from breast cancer: Don't gain weight.

Women who gain weight after they reach menopause increase their risk of developing invasive breast cancer by 18 percent, while women who lost and kept off 22 pounds or more since menopause and did not take hormones actually reduced their risk by 57 percent. Why? Weight loss after menopause lowers circulating estrogen hormones in women, and because estrogen is directly related to breast cancer, weight loss is thought to decrease risk of the disease.

But lifetime weight gain also counts. Women who gained 55 pounds or more since age 18, upped their risk of breast cancer by 45 percent, compared with those who maintained their weight. There was an even stronger association among women who never took postmenopausal hormones.

That's the word from researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who analyzed data from the long-running Nurses' Health Study to assess the risk of breast cancer from weight gain during two stages of life--since 18 years of age and since menopause. A total of 87,143 postmenopausal women ages 30 to 55 years were followed for up to 26 years to analyze weight change since age 18. Weight change since menopause was assessed among 49,514 women, who were followed for up to 24 years. During this period, there were 2,376 cases of invasive breast cancer among postmenopausal women in the study.

The bottom line: The researchers concluded that 15 percent of the study's breast cancer cases may be attributable to weight gain of 4.4 pounds or more since age 18 and 4.4 percent of the cases may be attributable to weight gain of 4.4 pounds or more since menopause.

"These data suggest that weight gain during adult life, specifically since menopause, increases the risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women, whereas weight loss after menopause is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer," lead study author A. Heather Eliassen writes in Journal of the American Medical Association.
source: Netscape.com

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