Obesity Increases Breast Cancer Risk, Studies Find
Overweight women and women who gain a significant amount of weight during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to three studies presented yesterday at the meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in San Francisco, USA Today reports. The following summarizes the findings of each study.
- Women who gained more than 38 pounds during pregnancy had a 40% greater risk of developing breast cancer after menopause, a study by researchers at Georgetown University found. Such women have higher levels of estrogen, which could cause increased growth of abnormal breast cells and consequently increase a woman's risk of breast cancer.
- Women with insulin resistance, which occurs when overweight people have trouble processing sugar, may have an increased risk of breast cancer, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers.
- Overweight women often have a high level of leptin, a protein that helps regulate body fat, in their blood, and the protein can cause breast cancer cells to divide rapidly and "may be a trigger" for breast cancer, according to a test-tube study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota (Fackelmann, USA Today, 4/9).