Study: This Simple Body Change can Protect You from Breast Cancer

If you’re a woman, you should know that your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age. But just know that there are things you can do to protect yourself. One study shows that losing weight after menopause may help reduce your risk of invasive breast cancer, and you don’t have to shed a lot of weight to do it. What’s more, you can take your time doing it.

The study, published in the journal Cancer, shows that losing just 5% of your body weight cuts your risk of breast cancer.

Study author Dr. Rowan Chlebowski from City of Hope National Medical Center said of the 60,000-women study:

“The women [in the study] who lost 5% of body weight over just a 3-year period ended up having a 12% statistically significant reduction in breast cancer incidence.”

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for breast cancer in older women, Chlebowski said. But researchers didn’t know if losing weight could reduce that risk.

He said:

“It looks like once you get obese, there’s a lot of body signals that stimulate breast cancer growth and so the question is even a little moderate change in diet and moderate weight loss will reduce those signals.”

Related Read: Eating These Foods Could Increase Your Breast Cancer Risk

In the study, gaining more than 5% of body weight was not associated with breast cancer risk overall, but it was associated with a 54% higher risk of an especially serious and aggressive form of the disease, known as triple-negative breast cancer. [2]

Chlebowski and his colleagues tracked the outcomes of the post-menopausal women, with an average follow-up of 11 years. None of the women had a prior history of breast cancer and had normal mammogram results. The researchers weighed the women at the beginning of the study, and again 3 years later.

During follow-up, about 3,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in the group.

Though the study was observational in nature, Chlebowski said the results “are also supported by randomized clinical trial evidence.”


[1] CBS News

[2] HealthDay

Eating These Foods Could Increase Your Breast Cancer Risk, Study Says

If you love a big breakfast complete with bacon, sausage, or ham from time to time, you’re in good company, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy your meal. But if those foods are a regular part of your diet – if any type of processed meat is a regular part of your diet – you should consider cutting back.

A new study links regular processed meat consumption with increased breast cancer risk, almost exactly 3 years after the World Health Organization (WHO) classified processed meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Source: University of Georgia

Regularly consuming processed meat was linked with a 9% increased risk of breast cancer, according to the paper, an analysis of previous studies looking at more than 1.2 million women.

Processed meats are meats that have been preserved by smoking, curing, or salting.

In the study, high consumption of processed meat was defined as about 25 to 30 grams a day, on average. [2]

The authors wrote: [1]

“The systematic review and meta-analysis study reports significant positive associations between processed meat consumption with risk of breast cancer.”

Lead author Dr. Maryam Farvid, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, added:

“Cutting down processed meat seems beneficial for the prevention of breast cancer.”

But the researchers said if you don’t want to cut processed meats out of your diet entirely, you don’t have to. Simply reducing your intake is sufficient.

Great news for bacon lovers.

And you should know that the paper leaves “many questions unanswered,” according to Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the UK’s Open University. The study cannot prove a causal relationship between processed meat consumption and breast cancer.

Conway said he “can’t tell you how many more cases of breast cancer there would be if everyone ate an extra bacon sandwich a day – this research just can’t give that information.”

The previous studies used in the meta-analysis produced “inconsistent” results when it came to linking processed meat and breast cancer. And until now, processed meat had been mostly linked to cancer of the kidneys, pancreas, and prostate.

Source: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Read: Red Meat Could Decrease Life Expectancy for Those with Colon Cancer

The mechanism behind the link between processed meat and breast cancer is unclear, but Farvid said the preservatives in meat might be one cause for the link.

“My recommendation is that it’s good for women to cut down on processed meat.”

The analysis appears in the International Journal of Cancer.


[1] CNN

[2] The New York Times

University of Georgia

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine