The Connection Between Obesity and Breast Cancer

October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and obesity has a potential connection to breast cancer in women of all ages. An article in July’s Your Weight Matters Magazine discusses the potential connection between obesity and breast cancer in women of all ages.

Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer among American women next to skin cancer with about 1 in 8 women developing breast cancer in their lifetime. The authors write that “Understanding the connection between excess weight and breast cancer risk gives individuals more reasons to better manage their weight and decrease risks of developing this all-too-common and life threatening disease.”

Obesity and breast cancer are both on the rise worldwide. These two disorders are also linked to one another. Excess body weight, poor diet and physical inactivity have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. With 70 percent of postmenopausal women in the U.S. estimated to be affected by excess weight or obesity, this is cause for concern.

The good news is that weight management also plays a key role in the prevention of breast cancer and in improving the prognosis once breast cancer is diagnosed.

According to the article written by Nancy Kushner, MSN, RN, and Robert Kushner, MD, while a known connection exists between cancer and obesity, the exact cause and effect of the relationship is complex and is not yet fully understood.

A strong relationship exists between obesity and many cancers, particularly postmenopausal breast cancer. Excess body fat may increase the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer through factors that include insulin resistance, changes in the level of sex hormones and chronic inflammation.

The authors further describe lifestyle-related breast cancer risk factors that are changeable and tips women of all size can take to decrease their odds of developing breast cancer, including:

  • See your healthcare provider for regular breast exams and breast cancer screening mammograms.
  • Control your weight.
  • Be physically active by engaging in aerobic activity (a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity) and muscle strengthening exercises two days per week.
  • Choose a healthful, balanced diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits, lower in saturated fat, higher in fiber and calorie-controlled.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your family history of breast cancer and ways to lower your risk.
  • Learn about the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy.

The full article can be viewed here.

Leave a Reply