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Extra Body Fat May Raise Breast Cancer Risk, Regardless of Your Weight

A new study shows that older women with extra body fat risk getting breast cancer, even if they have a normal weight. This suggests that instead of women concentrating on weight alone, they should focus on those things that can lower fat levels in the body such as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Previous research has shown that obese and overweight women generally increase the risk of breast cancer, which may develop after menopause. However, physicians have long used the body mass index (BMI) to determine obesity. However, the problem is BMI does not show the distinction between fat, bone, and muscle, making it an inaccurate way to gauge the body’s composition as well as disease risks.

It’s now established that BMI isn’t be the best indicator of an individual’s risk of conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This may also be the case for breast cancer notes Dr. Neil Iyengar, the lead researcher who’s a medical oncologist at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

Here’s what the study unveiled:

  • The findings were obtained from 3,460 women of between 50 and 79 years who were a subset of a bigger study dubbed the Women’s Health Initiative. All women had a normal BMI at the start and their body fat measured using DXA or dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.
  • The study found that, on average, women having higher body fat levels were at a higher risk of ER-positive breast cancer. Women with fat levels in the top 25% were two times more likely to develop this cancer than those in the bottom 25%.
  • These findings don’t give a definite proof that body fats cause cancers, but the study accounted for other factors including use of hormone therapy, family history of breast cancer and the women’s drinking and exercise habits.

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