Breast Cancer Risk Expands With Your Waistline

Going up a size or 2 a decade increases risk of postmenopausal breast cancer
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2014 8:20 AM CDT
Breast Cancer Risk Expands With Your Waistline
In this June 26, 2012, file photo, two women speak to each other in New York. A national telephone survey found 13 states with very high rates of obesity.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Obesity, especially when fat is concentrated in one's middle, is a known risk factor for cancer. But gaining weight throughout one's life has just been found to be another—at least when it comes to women and postmenopausal breast cancer. Researchers found that going up a size every decade from one's 20s to 60s increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by 33%, while going up two sizes a decade increases that risk by 77%, reports Today.

The vast study published this week in the journal BMJ Open followed 90,000 women in their 50s and 60s in England, though it comes with a few shortcomings, such as women possibly not being able to accurately recall their skirt size from several decades ago, not to mention those sizes themselves changing over time. But researchers say that tracking sizes could help, and it's a good reminder that a healthy lifestyle—including a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and moderate drinking—can have a protective effect against cancer, reports the BBC. (Even exposure to artificial light at night may play a role in cancer.)

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