Breast Cancer and Obesity: What is the Connection?

Breast Cancer and Obesity are linked

Breast Cancer and Obesity are Linked

The very sight of Chole bhature, Samosa, Potato fries can make your mouth water. But have you ever pondered upon this thought that the fat-laden food on your plate can put you at the risk of Breast Cancer? Not yet, then you must before it is too late. Breast Cancer and obesity are linked!

Let’s shed some more light on this deadly disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in many cities. It is the 2nd most common cancer in rural areas, accounting for 25% of all female malignancies.

Shocked, aren’t you??

Though obesity has been long associated with the prevalence of breast cancer, it has traditionally been measured in BMI, i.e., the average distribution of fat all through the body.

But BMI has a drawback. It fails to identify where the fat is actually accumulating. So we have Woman’s Waist Size as a predictor of Breast Cancer.

Wondering how!!!

Breast Cancer and Obesity

According to a study published in BMJ (British Medical Journal), a woman’s waist size is a better predictor of breast cancer than BMI. The fat tissue around the waist though more metabolically active, increases the production of estrogen in the body which accelerates the growth of breast tumor.

What does the research say?

Researchers from UCL University college, London studied 98,324 women of >50 postmenopausal age who had no history of breast cancer. These women were made to fill questionnaires detailing their history of health, height, weight, lifestyle and also their skirt sizes. The participants were followed up subsequently over years and their health, lifestyle and skirt sizes were documented. During the follow-up, 1090 women developed breast cancer.

The result showed that “Between 25 and postmenopausal age, an increase in Skirt Size by one unit every decade increased the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by 33% while decrease in Skirt Size was associated with lowering of risk.”

The Impact

Expanding waist has been associated with other forms of cancer in the past including that of pancreas, prostate, ovaries and cervix. It’s no surprise that the belly fat also plays a role in breast cancer.  But this result showed that the increase in skirt size, independent of BMI, increased the risk of breast cancer and that fat accumulated around the waist is more dangerous than fat accumulated on other parts of the body.

This visceral fat can do more harm to a person’s body than the subcutaneous fat, causing increased levels of estrogen, insulin resistance and fatty liver.

P.S. So now when you know how deadly it is to have that excess fat around your waist, consider your shape of you because it will be a bad news if you have an apple shaped body.

The Implication

Increase in waist size can be linked to sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits of this generation. With obesity emerging as a global epidemic, women now have a simple method to check their health and take action against it. Instead of going through the hassle of measuring their weight and height to measure their BMI, women can just measure the size of their waist.

With the discovery of this association between waist size and breast health, women now have the power to change the course of their health. They need to be made aware of the importance of their breast health and how they can take charge to change the course of it.

The Bottom Line

The only way to reduce belly fat is by doing regular exercise and burning it off. Regular exercising not only reduces the risk of breast cancer but also of other cardiovascular diseases. 30 mins of exercise 3-4 days a week is what is recommended for women.

By simple interventions like regular exercising, abstaining from alcohol and smoking and maintaining a healthy weight a woman can reduce her breast cancer risk by 20%-30%.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Join us in spreading the word because together we can make a difference.

**Consult India’s best doctors here***

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