Q: Do fat, large breasts have a higher probability of getting breast cancer, or does one’s weight have no direct link to it?
A: I wish I could give you a simple yes or no answer, but the facts wouldn?t support it. Despite tremendous advances in research and treatment, we still have a long way to go before we fully understand how this disease works.
We?re compiling lots of statistics that have allowed us to identify risk factors for breast cancer. Yet most women who get it have none of the risk factors, while most of the women with risk factors don?t get breast cancer. This doesn?t mean you should ignore the known risks; just try to keep them in perspective.
The issues of size and fattiness of breasts probably have more to do with detection of breast cancer than the risk of getting the disease. But there are lingering questions about whether obesity raises the risk of contracting breast cancer. This is of particular concern right now, in a time when many experts consider obesity to be epidemic in the United States.
Given what we know about obesity as a risk factor for many other conditions, it?s probably not such a leap to implicate it as a risk factor for breast cancer. Yet the research is not conclusive. There is somewhat stronger evidence that obesity or weight gain after menopause raises the risk of breast cancer.
With so many ways to interpret research results, it?s no wonder that expert opinion on the matter is not uniform. The government?s National Cancer Institute excludes obesity from its list of known risk factors. The Y-me breast cancer organization includes it. The American Cancer Society acknowledges the lack of proof, but nevertheless urges obese women to lose weight as a possible preventive measure.
That seems like the wisest strategy. Controlling your weight may not prevent breast cancer, but it?s very likely to have a positive overall effect on your health and disease risk. By the way, regular exercise also appears to reduce breast cancer risk and of course, exercise helps with weight loss.
To sum it all up, my opinion is that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight may lower your risk of breast cancer and will benefit you in other ways. So you can?t lose by losing.
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