Can Weight Loss After Menopause Reduce Breast Cancer Risk?


Research has shown that in postmenopausal women, excess pounds can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. A recently published study in the journal Cancer suggests that losing weight might help reduce that risk.

The study involved more than 61,000 women, ages 50 to 79, who were all initially cancer-free. Body weight was recorded at baseline and three years later, and the women were followed for another 11 years, during which time 3,061 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed.

Women who lost 5 percent or more of their body weight were slightly less likely to develop the cancer than those who were at stable weight, after adjustments were made for factors that affect breast cancer risk, such as age at menarche, number of children, family history of breast cancer, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Prior studies on weight loss and breast cancer risk have had mixed results, and the current study had some limitations, so more research is needed to confirm the latest results. But obesity, which affects hormones, is a recognized factor in breast cancer, so it’s biologically plausible that losing weight would reduce the risk.