Weight gain may increase breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women

November 14th, 2007 - 2:43 am ICT by admin  
The study, conducted by Jiyoung Ahn, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md. and colleagues, observed the finding among women who had not taken hormone therapy after menopause.

Obesity has been known to be a risk factor for developing breast cancer after menopause, as estrogens may accumulate in fat tissue, which has the potential of initiating or promoting the growth of cancerous cells, in the breast, which formed the basis of the study.

In the study 99,039 postmenopausal women participated.

In 1996, the women had reported their current body measurements and weight, plus their weight at ages 18, 35 and 50, in which Body mass index (BMI) was used to classify the participants as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.

By 2000, 2,111 of them had developed breast cancer.

In women who did not take menopausal hormone therapy, gaining weight in the early reproductive years (age 18 to 35), late reproductive years (age 35 to 50), perimenopausal and postmenopausal years (age 50 to the current age) and throughout adulthood (age 18 to the current age) were all linked to increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with maintaining a stable weight during those periods.

Women who were not obese or overweight at age 18 but were at ages 35 and 50 had 1.4 times the risk of developing breast cancer as compared with women who maintained a normal weight.

“Because weight gain during adulthood mainly reflects the deposition of fat mass rather than lean body mass, weight gain potentially represents age-related metabolic change that may be important in breast cancer development,” the researchers said.

“These findings may reinforce public health recommendations for the maintenance of a healthy weight throughout adulthood as a means of breast cancer prevention,” they added.

The analysis of the study found that women who had lost weight had the same breast cancer risk as those whose weight remained stable.

The study is issued in the Archives of Internal Medicine. (ANI)

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