Reducing your breast cancer risk with weight loss
After struggling unsuccessfully to squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans, many ladies will be tempted to go on a weight loss diet. But shifting a few pounds has an impact not only on your figure, but on your lifetime risk of a number of illnesses.
In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Cancer earlier this week showed a link between obesity and an increased risk of breast cancer. The research looked at factors which raise levels of sex hormones and in turn increase a post-menopausal woman’s risk of the illness such as age, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index (BMI) and the type of menopause.
While drinking and smoking increased a woman’s risk, weight has the biggest impact, the boffins discovered.
BMI and oestrogen
Women with a high BMI had higher levels of oestrogen, which the researchers said might explain why obese women have a greater chance of developing the condition.
Dr Gillian Reeves, a co-author of the study based at the University of Oxford, said: “Other studies have found that weight and alcohol can affect hormone levels and this research confirms and adds to these findings and provides more information about how breast cancer develops.”
The study is important because it shows why the link between being overweight and a greater risk of cancer exists, added Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager.
“We know that the risk of the disease can be affected by family history and getting older, but there are also things women can do to help reduce the risk of the disease,” she advised.
Ladies need to ensure they are of a healthy BMI and don’t drink too much if they want to boost their health.
“Maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing alcohol consumption are key to reducing breast cancer risk,” said Dr Sharp.
How to lose weight and boost your health
Here comes the science bit! To reduce our risk of breast cancer, and perhaps lose a few pounds in the process, Cancer Research UK recommends replacing animal fats and polyunsaturated fats – often found in margarines and vegetable oils – with monounsaturated fats, like olive oil.
It’s also important to eat more isoflavones – you’ll find them in soy, peas and beans. And of course, don’t forget lignans, which you can get by consuming vegetables, fruits and grains.
Eating wheat bran, cereals, beans, fruit and vegetables could also help, as could ensuring you have enough calcium in your diet, the charity advises.
The reasons why people want to lose weight
Slimming World spokesperson Dr Jacquie Lavin recently noted that not many people are aware that there are such strong links between being overweight and developing a number of illnesses.
However, she explained: “While only one in three people are aware of the link between obesity and cancer, people who struggle with their weight are increasingly aware that they are putting their health in danger, with the majority recognising its links to heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.”
Improving health is becoming a key motivator for people hoping to drop a few dress sizes, whether it’s through detox diets, diet pills or gradual changes in your diet. Dr Lavin said four out of five overweight people have cited improving their health as a reason for their weight loss efforts. This puts it far ahead of aesthetic motives, like being able to wear nice clothes, she added.
Whether you’re aiming to lose weight fast so you can fit into your swimsuit or you’re hoping to boost your health, ladies who maintain their new figure will have reduced their risk of breast cancer (and a few other conditions too!).
Why have you decided to embark on a weigh loss regime?