Montclair Breast Center believes that knowledge is power, and we strive to empower you to make decisions that reduce your lifetime risk of breast cancer. While some risk factors for breast cancer are unavoidable – your family history, ethnicity, and age when periods started and stopped - one risk factor you can change is achieving and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI).
BMI is a ratio measurement of height and weight. Please use the left-side widget to calculate your current BMI. A healthy BMI for adult females is 18.5-24.9 kg/m.
Being overweight increases the risk of many diseases, including breast and other cancers. Recent studies have revealed that obesity (BMI 30+) is a risk factor for the development of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women, which accounts for 75% of breast cancer cases. Even more alarming, obesity is associated with poor prognosis in women with this common type of breast cancer.
While it is not entirely clear why extra fat tissue increases the risk of developing breast cancer, it is likely that multiple factors are involved. Because fat cells, or adipocytes, make and store estrogen, having more fat tissue may increase breast cancer risk by exposing the body to more circulating estrogen. In postmenopausal women, who no longer produce estrogen in the ovaries, excess fat tissue prolongs circulating estrogen exposure, similar to taking hormone replacement therapy. These estrogens may stimulate abnormal breast cell growth. Additionally, the mechanisms that cause insulin resistance and inflammation in obese women may also contribute to their increased breast cancer risk. (American Cancer Society, 2012).
The task of losing weight may seem daunting, but at Montclair Breast Center, we want women to approach achieving and maintaining a healthy BMI as a way to gain control of their breast cancer risk. One study suggested women who lost just 4-11 pounds after menopause lowered their risk of breast cancer by 20%.
Just as weight gain is multifactorial, weight loss plans should be individualized to meet your needs. Working with a weight loss specialist may be helpful. Some strategies to get you off to the right start are:
- Eat a mostly plant-based diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, grains, and legumes
- Choose water over sugary beverages
- Limit refined carbohydrates (i.e. white bread, pasta, chips) and watch portions
- The updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015) recommend limiting calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reducing sodium intake
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine – take the stairs or take a walk at lunch; choose the farthest parking space to add a walk to your shopping trip (Exercise does not always have to happen at a gym!)
- Vary your exercise to maximize your results and reduce boredom - take a bike ride with your grandchildren or try a yoga class with a friend
Most importantly, learn to love yourself, even if your progress is slow. Learn to forgive yourself, even if a few pounds return. You can try again as many times as you need. Your breasts will thank you!
Remember, the future of breast cancer treatment is prevention.
Want to learn more? Come in for comprehensive BMI Testing through our Bone Density unit!
A Body Mass Index (BMI) analysis helps determine individual risk for health problems, such as cancer. Our machine conveys more than a standard calculation - including where body fat exists, body type, and resting metabolic rate (BMR) in a complete 3-page report. Resting metabolic rate, or basal metabolic rate, is the number of calories you're burning when inactive. The results from your screening are used to help you, and your doctor, determine lifestyle improvements to both decrease BMI and increase BMR.