Obesity increases the risk of dying from breast cancer

July 2, 2002 in Cancer Prevention, Weight Management, Women's Health

Obesity increases the risk of dying from breast cancer

Postmenopausal women who are overweight or obese may be more likely to die from breast cancer than normal or underweight women, according to recent study findings from the American Cancer Society. In fact, roughly 30% of breast cancer deaths among females may be due to overweight, researchers report.

Because of the prevalence of obesity among women in North America, the relevance of the findings is very important. In the United States, 64% of women at this postmenopausal age are overweight and 32% are obese.

The investigators examined the association between body mass index--a measure of weight in relation to height--and breast cancer death among more than 424,000 women who were enrolled in a national cancer prevention study in 1982. Breast cancer deaths were three times more common among women with higher body mass indexes than among their slimmer peers. Overall, the women's risk of death increased as their body mass index rose.

The greater risk of death among overweight or obese women may be due to a number of factors such as the increased difficulty of detecting breast cancer in obese women and their decreased likelihood of undergoing breast cancer screening.

The take-home message would be to lose weight, concluded the researchers. If you are of normal weight try to maintain your weight, and if you're overweight try to reduce it.

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