It’s October, which means it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to BreastCancer.org, on average, 1 in 8 U.S. women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. We have seen great strides in the progress to diagnosis and in the treatment of cancer in the last few decades, which leads to an increase in survival rates. We still have a long way to go before we can consider breast cancer a thing of the past.

This month we want to bring the opportunity to highlight some of the ways we can reduce breast cancer through weight loss. Research has shown that as an individual gains weight, specifically postmenopausal women, show an increase while women who lost four to eleven pounds (after menpause) decreased their risk. When you are overweight the risk may increase because fat cells make estrogen, extra fat cells mean more estrogen in the body, and estrogen can make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers develop and grow. Also, women who are overweight tend to have higher levels of insulin, another hormone. Higher insulin levels have also been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer. Being overweight also can increase the risk of the breast cancer coming back (recurrence) in women who have had the disease.

Steps you can take

Losing weight as you get older can be challenging. You need to speak with your doctor about how many calories you need to maintain nutrition as well as what exercises would be safe for you. Ask questions about what is a healthy weight for you based on your age, height, body and activity type.

Counting calories is not always to safest way to go. People think when you eat less calories that means you will lose more. It’s important to think about what you are eating. Making healthier decisions on food is always the best choice. Vegetables and fruit over that extra piece of cake after dinner, can make a big difference.

Research from the Nurses’ Health Study found women who lost weight and kept it off for 4 or more years after menopause had a 40% lower risk of breast cancer. Another study found that weight-loss surgery was associated with an 83% lower risk of breast cancer. We do know that avoiding weight gain is helpful, whether you are overweight now or not. If you’re carrying extra pounds, losing as little as 5%-10% of your weight improves your overall health. A good goal for most overweight women is to drop half a pound per week for 6 months.

In the End

Knowing this information is to help you prevent Breast Cancer and other ailments. Staying healthy and active, within your BMI as well will have many benefits to your life. Be aware of body changes and talk with your doctor about any concerns that you may have.