Does Overweight Cause Breast Cancer? And If So, How Much and When?

Topics: Cancer, Obesity and Weight Loss
Dr John La Puma

Weight loss during pregnancy and at menopause have different effects on breast cancer risk, and on you.

Eating for two feels like a joyous thing…eating because you’re 52 feels out of control. And your body is.

How much you gain during your first pregnancy is irrelevant for breast cancer: no correlation.

But weight gain between that pregnancy and menopause? Very risky.

A 70 percent increased risk if you gain 60 pounds instead of 20 pounds, this study shows

It’s not how much you weigh–it’s how much you gain. That’s a 4 percent increase in risk for each 11 poinds gained.

If you’re young and overweight you have an advantage from this perspective. But if you want to change your risk, you can.

The known risk factors for breast cancer are family history, obesity, more than one drink daily, no biological kids, and long term homone replacement.

Less well-known: weight gain after menopause and before menopause.

140x240 Menopause Weight Loss

Not a risk: how much you weigh at menarche (beginning your periods), or how much you weigh at first pregnancy, or at age 20.

To reduce your risk, learn to eat well. Lose weight with a doctor who can help you keep it off, not just offer a quick fix.

And start early: don’t wait for menopause to take care of yourself.