Postmenopausal weight loss lowers risk of breast cancer

Postmenopausal weight loss lowers risk of breast cancer

Women's Health

Losing excess weight after menopause may make a woman feel better, and research now suggests that it might lower her risk of breast cancer as well. Research just released in the journal Cancer, showed a 12% reduction in the risk of invasive breast cancer in women who lose a modest amount of weight.

Breast cancer statistics

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. One out of eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. With this study, it is good to know that there is one more measure women can take to lower their risk.

The weight loss research

The study was part of the large Women’s Health Initiative and involved 61, 335 women age 50 and above. The women were weighed at the beginning of the study and then 3 years later. During this time, some women lost weight, some gained, and some stayed the same. Knowing this, the women were followed over the next 11 years.

During this 11-year period, 3061 of the women had developed breast cancer. When correlated with whether or not they had gained or lost weight, the women who lost a modest amount of weight (5% or more) had a 12% lower risk of having developed breast cancer compared with the women whose weight was stable.

The women who gained 5% or more weight during the initial 3-year period did not have a higher cancer rate, however, if they did develop cancer, it tended to be a more aggressive type. These women had a 54% higher chance that their cancer was the “triple-negative” type, which is more difficult to treat. Unlike other types of breast cancer, the triple-negative cancer does not respond to the usual medications, so stronger chemotherapeutic agents are necessary.

This study is consistent with the results of previous research that suggested weight loss in post-menopausal women is advantageous. Women who were severely obese and underwent bariatric surgery showed up to a 75% lower risk of developing hormone-related breast cancer compared with severely obese women who did not have surgery.

What this means

Postmenopausal women would likely lower their risk of breast cancer if they keep their weight under control, aiming for a body mass index of 25 or less. Other ways to decrease the risk of breast cancer include: not smoking, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, minimizing alcohol, keeping physically active, and having regular breast cancer screening.

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

See also in ProcuraMed:

Breastfeeding cuts mother’s risk of diabetes by 48%, and of two cancers by 28%

Low dose aspirin lowers risk of breast cancer

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

Recommended doctors

These are some recommended doctors on ProcuraMed.