Two studies being presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual give interesting insight into how diet and body weight impact breast cancer risk.
Research which looked at cancer diagnoses in 72,007 women aged 55-74 years highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood. According to the study, women who gained weight between 20 and 50 years of age had a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, women who gained >5 kg/m2 between age 20 and the start of the study had nearly twice the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer when compared to women who maintained or lost weight.
Another study looked at the impact of diet during pregnancy on the development of breast cancer in daughters and granddaughters. The results of this interesting study indicate that eating a high fat diet during pregnancy could increase breast cancer risk not only in daughters, but also in granddaughters. The researchers found that when pregnant female rats were fed a high fat diet, their daughters and granddaughters had an increased number of terminal end in their mammary glands. They also had a higher rate of mammary tumors.
With an estimated lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer closing in on 1 in 7, finding ways that we can help reduce our own risk and that of our daughters and granddaughters is extremely exciting and powerful. I have to admit though, that reading about the second study made me feel a little sick. While I can work to control my weight going into the future, and help my daughters develop habits that will help them do the same, there’s nothing I can do to change what I ate while I was pregnant with my daughters. I also can’t help but wonder what my mom and grandmother ate while they were pregnant .
By: Kristie McNealy.M.D