Every year, a huge number of women die from breast cancer. It’s one of the leading causes of death in women. But like any disease, one can take some steps to lower the risks of getting it. And when it comes to prevention, the advice pretty much is the same for any cancer type: quit smoking, reduce dietary fat and eat fortifying food.
But in addition to all those, there is another thing that a woman can do to lower her risk for breast cancer. And it’s as simple as slimming down.
If you need any more incentive to shed those excess pounds, let it be this. Lowering your weight can also lower your breast cancer risk. New research have shown that postmenopausal women who are overweight cut their breast cancer risk in half by simply losing 5% to 10% of their body weight.
One study showed that by gaining 20 pounds or more, the risk for breast cancer doubles. As it turns out, fat is not just extra padding you get from overindulging one too many times. It has one more dangerous result. That is it increases the blood levels of the hormones estradiol and testosterone. Both of those have been linked to higher breast cancer risks.
The study, undertaken at the Prevention Center at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, explains further that high levels of those two hormones increases the risk of getting breast cancer in women by half compared to those with very low levels.
One in every 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. That’s a rather high percentage. And it’s a risk that only increases as a woman ages and gains more weight. But there’s a way to tip the balance to a woman’s favor. And it’s simply and effectively done by doing some exercise and losing a little weight.
The study actually placed over 400 overweight and obese postmenopausal women on one of four regimens:
- reduced calorie diet – where they can only consume 1200 to 2000 calories depending on their weight
- exercise – 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity 5 times a week
- diet and exercise – a combination of the first two
- maintain – simply continuing their usual lifestyle
After a year, the results were tallied as such:
- The women who only dieted lost 5% of their body weight.
- The women on the diet regimen reduced their estradiol levels by 30%. That’s a 22% lower risk for breast cancer.
- The women on regimen #3 lost over 10% body weight and reduced the hormone levels by 50%.
So piling on the pounds around the waistline? Definitely one of the worst things a woman can do when it comes to her health. If you want to stay healthy, don’t just sit there. Start moving!
Vigorous exercise cuts cancer risk by more than 33% compared to non-exercisers. If you’re stuck on a desk job, then the more you have to make time and exert effort. Women in sedentary occupations during reproductive years with no physical activity had three times the risk of getting breast cancer. They’re also more likely to pack on the pounds.
Exercise will stimulate the immune system and help fight free radicals that corrode the cells. And of course, moving more will help you lose some of the weight too.
It’s never too late for women to make simple lifestyle changes. By reducing caloric intake, increasing physical activity and losing a pound or two a week, they actually have a better chance of escaping the clutches of the killer that is breast cancer.