A new study has suggested that weight loss among women, even after menopause, has protective effects against breast cancer.
Lead author Dr Rowan Chlebowski said postmenopausal women don’t have to achieve normal weight or even lose vast amount of weight, because even a five percent loss would yield benefits.
A five percent loss is equivalent to 12 percent lower risk, and higher if the person can lose more weight.
“A modest weight loss that seems to be sustainable could have important health consequences,” Dr Chlebowski said. He is a research professor at the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics, City of Hope, California.
A five percent reduction in weight loss is achievable, he added.
Researchers in the past have established that obesity, similarly with smoking, could play a role in the development of cancer. Fat stores estrogen, a high level of which is linked with breast cancer.
In the study, more than 61,000 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 to 79 coming from the Women’s Health Initiative, US National Institute of Health, were included.
The researchers noted none had breast cancer at the start of the study. The participants were measured at the start and after three years; the study spanned 11 years.
Among the research team's findings is that weight remained the same for 41,100 of the participants while 8,100 lost five percent or more of their weight. About 3,000 women developed breast cancer.
Though there is considerable benefit with a five percent weight loss, greater benefit is noted if the woman lost 15 percent of their weight, bringing the risk for breast cancer down to 37 percent.
“We found that relatively modest weight loss was linked to a statistically significant lower breast cancer incidence,” according to the researchers.
That said, gaining weight doesn’t seem to increase the risk, according to the researchers. But there is 54 percent risk of breast cancer being triple negative if there is weight gain after menopause.
Findings were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
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