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Losing Weight May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

60% of Malaysians are overweight. Would you really attempt to lose weight if it could save you from breast cancer?

Obesity has been linked to countless health problems, including heart diseases, diabetes, and mankind’s ultimate horor: cancer.

In Malaysia, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women whereby 1 in 19 women are at risk (source: Malaysian Oncology). Good news for us who have always lived in fear of breast cancer, a study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle shows that moderate weight loss from diet and exercise could lower breast cancer risk.

For every kg we lose, there is a drop in the amount of estrogen and other sex hormones that are linked to breast cancer in our bodies. The more fat tissue we have, the faster our body produces estrogen that fuels up breast tumours. This is the reason why previous studies have stated that obese women as the ones who are at greater risk of breast cancer.

When women hit menopausal state, the fat tissue easily increases, which significantly boosts the estrogen level although the ovaries have stopped producing it. Hence, 439 overweight and obese women aged 50-75 years old took part in this study, in which they are put into four different lifestyle categories.

The categories are divided into exercise only, diet only, exercise and diet, and no intervention. Throughout the study period, researchers test the participants’ sex hormones, including two forms of testosterone, three forms of estrogen, a steroid needed to produce sex hormones, and SHBG – a protein that binds to sex hormones rendering them less effective. From the examination, it is found that even smaller weight loss decreases the production of breast cancer-associated sex hormones.

“Just losing 5 percent of starting weight – such as losing 10 pounds (4.5kg) if she started at 200 (90kg) – had a significant effect. That’s really promising news, I believe, because it’s telling us that women don’t have to be a ‘Biggest Loser’ to get an important health benefit,” said Dr. Anne McTiernan, the director of the Hutchinson Centre’s Prevention Centre.

There you have it ladies, you don’t need a drastic diet change for the sake of saving yourself from breast cancer. Instead, make a point to build a healthy lifestyle by gradually reducing calorie intake and moving around more.

To know more about breast cancer and its examinations, refer to:

Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia

Malaysian Oncological Society

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