As it now appears, having a slimmer figure is not only for cosmetic reasons, but also for the benefit of our health. In our battle against cancer, we are given a list of risk factors as a guide to know our own probability of developing the disease. Some risk factors are inevitable, such as family history and age, but there are also others that can be prevented, including obesity.
There have been several studies that involved breast cancer patients and women in which the researchers found that having a wider waist circumference could be one of the biggest risk factors of this type of cancer.
One study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology evaluated a total of 47,382 participants, who were actually registered nurses in the United States. The nurses were asked to provide their waist and hip circumferences back in 1986 and they continued to do so until May 1994.
Out of all the participants, 1,037 of them had invasive breast cancers. It is discovered that obesity does have a complex relationship with breast cancer:
- The higher the body mass index (BMI) is, the lower the breast cancer risk before menopause.
- There is an increased risk of cancer in postmenopausal women with high BMI, especially in women who never had hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Scientists have estimated that there are about seven to 15% of breast cancer patients who are obese. Aside from the study above, there are hundred other studies that show postmenopausal women who are either obese or overweight have higher risk of developing the cancer. There are two large studies supported by the United Kingdom’s Cancer Research, known as the EPIC and the Million Women studies that discovered that obese postmenopausal women have 30% higher risk than those who have a healthy weight after menopause. These two studies agree with the study mentioned above that obesity does not increase breast cancer risk in women before menopause. However, as they put on weight over time, the risk for the disease increases as shown below:
- Additional 25 kg or 55 pounds in women who are over 18 years old increases the risk of breast cancer after menopause by 45%.
- Additional two to 10 kg (equal to 4.4 pounds to 22 pounds) after reaching 50 years can increase postmenopausal breast cancer by up to 30%.
The data gathered by the researchers proved that changes in waist circumference of women before menopause can affect the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer without taking in her weight. These studies show how deadly obesity can be, but it is a risk factor of many diseases, including cancer that can be prevented.