Weight gain and increased breast cancer risk

August 9, 2009


It’s a natural tendency for women to gain weight as they go through menopause and the body lays down fat cells to provide the oestrogen that is lacking from the natural cycle. We know that the highest risk group are women over 50, they comprise around 80 percent of cases, but there are now two new studies that show that a woman’s risk is increased if she is seriously overweight – whatever her age.

Previously it was believed that postmenopausal women were the most at risk but the study by scientists at Geneva University, Switzerland, have shown that it is a woman’s lipid profile and oestradiol levels related to her weight are also determining factors. They found that in their study of women aged 25-80 years old that obese women presented significantly more often with stage III and stage IV cancer and the figures are extraordinary:

** these women were a staggering 180% more likely to have later stage breast cancer than women of normal weight.

** they were also 240% more likely to have tumours that were equal to or greater in size than 1 centimeter

** their chances of having positive lymph nodes were 510% more likely than normal weight women and this suggests cancer may have spread to other parts of their bodies

Not only does obesity clearly increase breast cancer risk, but other research has shown it shortens the time between return of the disease and lowers overall survival rates. In 2007, Italian researchers went presented evidence that a hormone found in fat cells called leptin significantly influences breast cancer development. Leptin is a hormone derived from fat cells that sends messages to the body that it is time to stop eating. Obese people often do not have a clear signal from the leptin receptor and it is this failure that has previously been shown to be involved in the development of breast cancer. Leptin has been found in 86.4% of primary breast tumours. This is because it increases the amount of oestradiol in breast tissue and we know that excess oestrogen is associated with breast cancer.

Normalising leptin function is therefore critical in cancer risk individuals as it is the single most important hormone for controlling our body weight control. Because leptin regulates our thyroid, insulin, growth, and adrenal hormones it is vital for regulating all our metabolic processes.

What can you do?

Anyone with a pattern on consistently overeating will become leptin resistant, which means that leptin is unable to deliver its message to the brain to stop eating. To regulate and redress this you need to first drastically cut out any consumption of processed carbohydrates and focus on a diet of natural whole foods. A good night’s sleep is also important and light interrupts leptin function so make sure your bedroom is really dark and don’t put on lights to go the bathroom but put in a low plug light to show you the way. Exercise in a moderate will help, and so will reducing any stress in your life. My own stress book is now available as an ebook for immediate download at www.sortingstressout.com but if you prefer a real paperback I have some copes available, just email me.

If sugar is an addiction for you, then speak to a herbalist and look at some of the herbs like Gymnema sylvestre, and Inula racemosa to help reduce the desire for sweet tasting foods and help bring the taste system back to natural balance.


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