Obesity and Breast Cancer Link
We all know that maintaining a healthy weight is thought to be a possible way to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer in the first place and then of having a recurrence if a diagnosis does occur. There is obviously a link here with exercise (one of the other usual recommendations) as we all know that fewer calories and more exercise help limit weight gain. I know so many women who struggle to maintain, let alone lose, weight and know how very hard it is. Difficult enough in any circumstances, it becomes even harder after menopause and when taking any of the hormonal treatments. I have reluctantly decided that maintaining weight is my goal--that is, as long as I don't gain, it has to be okay. I am just not willing to put myself on a diet of carrots and broth.
This is an interesting interview from Oncology Stat about the possible basic link between obesity and breast cancer. Per usual, here is the beginning and then a link:
Dr. Clifford Hudis: The Obesity-Breast Cancer Link
OncologySTAT Editorial Team. 2011 Sept 6, Interview by L Scott Zoeller
Dr. Hudis is Chief of the Breast Cancer Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. For more information,
view his profile.
OncologySTAT: Would you discuss the evidence surrounding the link between obesity and breast cancer risk and how it differs in premenopausal versus postmenopausal women?
Dr. Hudis: Obesity has been recognized as a risk factor for cancer for years. More affluent societies, where average daily caloric intake tends to be higher, have a somewhat higher incidence of certain common malignancies like breast cancer and colon cancer. They may also have a higher incidence of the more aggressive subtypes of prostate cancer. So, there is a recognized association between diet, and calories in particular, and cancer.
With regard to breast cancer, obesity is a risk factor for post-menopausal, hormone-receptor-positive disease and recent epidemiological evidence adds triple negative disease as well. But there is a timing issue with a different impact in the epidemiological studies for obesity at different times of life, especially with regard to menopause. In truth, all of this is based on a great deal of retrospective data that can be difficult to interpret, but the overall effect of obesity appears to be an increased risk of breast cancer.
Of course, there are many other reasons to be concerned with obesity and there is no valid "pro-obesity" argument. From a public health point of view, whether breast cancer is specifically increased in a detectable way because of obesity is possibly somewhat beside the point.
However, our focus is on the question of how obesity causes breast cancer. If we can understand that, we could possibly gain a clue into the broader causes of breast cancer and perhaps we could develop useful prevention and treatment approaches.