Weight Can Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

But side effects of treatment can make it harder to shed pounds
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2008 3:44 PM CDT
A doctor reviews breast images on a planar stereo display workstation.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – There may be a direct connection between weight and breast cancer in women, MSNBC reports. Overweight women “have more exposure to estrogen,” one doctor said, "which we think increases their risk of several different cancers.” Breast cancer patients across the country are now coupling their therapy with weight loss programs, but the side effects of cancer treatment can make it even harder to shed the pounds.

Chemotherapy can lead to weight gain, contrary to the stereotype of the gaunt cancer patient. And emotional issues surrounding treatment can make body image a sore subject. “It’s not the best thing, as a woman leaves the hospital, to yell, ‘Lose weight!’” one expert said. But weight loss doesn’t just lower risk; it’s also empowering, a move cancer survivors can make to lessen the risk of recurrence.