Extra Body Fat May Raise Breast Cancer Risk, No Matter Your Weight



Older women who carry some extra body fat may face a heightened risk of breast cancer — even if their weight is normal, a new study finds.

“This suggests women should not just concentrate on weight,” said Mia Gaudet, strategic director of breast and gynecologic cancer research for the American Cancer Society.

“Instead, they should focus on doing things that can help reduce body fat levels — like a healthy diet and regular exercise,” said Gaudet, who was not involved in the study.

Past research has found that overweight and obese women generally have a higher risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.

But doctors have long relied on body mass index (BMI) to tell whether people are normal weight or not.

The problem is, BMI does not distinguish between fat, muscle and bone. So, it’s an imprecise gauge of body composition — and disease risks, recent studies have shown.

It’s now “fairly well established” that BMI is not the best indicator of a person’s risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, said lead researcher Dr. Neil Iyengar.

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SOURCES: Neil Iyengar, M.D., medical oncologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City; Mia Gaudet, Ph.D., strategic director, breast and gynecologic cancer research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Graham Colditz, M.D., Dr.PH., associate director, prevention and control, Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; Jan, 26, 2018, presentation, American Association for Cancer Research conference, Austin, Texas

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