Weight Gain Increases Breast Cancer Risk
October is breast cancer awareness month, and it is refreshing to find an article that focuses on prevention. reported that losing weight and getting fit by exercising and eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of breast cancer.
A government-funded study showed that postmenopausal women who walked 30 minutes a day lowered their breast cancer risk by 20%. A long-running American Cancer Society study showed that women who gained 21 to 30 pounds after age 18 were 40% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who stayed within 5 pounds of their youthful weight. Women who gained more than 70 pounds doubled their risk of breast cancer.
How does weight gain contribute to breast cancer? First of all, the extra body fat produces estrogen, so heavier women will have higher estrogen levels. Estrogen fuels most breast cancers. Also, heavier inactive women tend to have higher insulin levels than lean, active women. It is possible that excess insulin and insulin-like growth factor protein may also send signals to the breast tumors that helps them grow. Exercising can help regulate both weight and insulin levels.
This doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of estrogen. Balancing the estrogen in your body with progesterone is very important for the prevention of breast cancer. Johns Hopkins University conducted a 20-year study, published in 1981 in the American Journal of Epidemiology. It showed that women who had adequate progesterone levels had less than a fifth of the amount of breast cancer, and less than a tenth of all the cancers that occurred in women who were low in progesterone. These outcomes suggest that having a normal level of progesterone protected women from nine-tenths of all cancers that might have otherwise occurred.
Avoiding weight gain can not only reduce the risk for breast cancer, it can also reduce your risk of tumors of the kidneys, esophagus, colon and uterine lining. Staying fit reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and joint problems as well.
The article mentions that there are “few clear steps” women can take to avoid breast cancer, when in fact, there are that women can take, such as maintaining healthy progesterone levels, optimizing vitamin D levels, and avoiding counterfeit hormones such as birth control pills, Premarin and Prempro. Take these proactive steps to protect your health today!