Are you tired of me talking about weight loss yet? LOL! I just came across yet another reason for women to lose and maintain their weight after menopause. Weight loss reduces breast cancer risk!
There was an study recently published in Cancer that looked at breast cancer risk in women who gained weight, maintained their weight and lost weight after menopause. The authors found that weight loss of at least 5% body weight after menopause did significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer over the 11 year follow up period.
In this study, women lost an average of 19 pounds. While not a small amount of weight, it isn’t a crazy amount either. They were able to maintain their weight loss for the most part too.
We know that breast cancer risk is higher in women who are overweight and obese. Since over 1/3 of women in the United States are obese, this is a significant risk factor for breast cancer in this country. According to NHANES survey data from 2013-2014, 40.4% of women in the US are obese.
Let’s do some math. Approximately how many American women are obese? In 2010 (according to census data) there were just under 157 million female Americans. 53.2 million were over 50, and 40.4% are obese. That’s 21.5 million obese female Americans over age 50. (Since we’re talking about breast cancer I want to focus on the population most at risk, and the study focused on women after menopause.)
In the study just published in Cancer, they found that 5.09% of women who maintained their weight got breast cancer, and 4.27% of the women who lost at least 5% of their body weight got breast cancer. That’s an absolute risk reduction (ARR) of 0.82%. This translates to a Number Needed to Treat (NNT) of 122. (Remember that NNT = 1 / ARR) This also assumes that the breast cancer risk reduction was caused by the weight loss.
If 122 obese women have to lose at least 5% of their body weight (and maintain that loss) to prevent one case of breast cancer…
That is over 176,000 women that could be spared breast cancer over approximately a 10-year time frame. With about 266,000 women diagnosed every year with breast cancer, that’s a 7% reduction.
Will you be one of the women who suffers a potentially preventable case of breast cancer? Now that you know weight loss reduces breast cancer risk, will you make sure to lose weight and get closer to your ideal body weight? Your heart, your liver, your brain, your pancreas, your joints, your back, and even your breasts will thank you!
QUESTION: Do the numbers in this article surprise you?