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Weight Gain Increases Breast Cancer Risk: Study
Date:10/22/2007

Higher estrogen levels believed to contribute to disease

MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Women who gain weight any time after the age of 18 are more likely to develop breast cancer than women who maintain a stable weight, a new study suggests.

In other words, when it comes to breast cancer, there's no good time to gain weight as an adult.

"We found that weight gain throughout adulthood as well as weight gain at specific stages of life were associated with risk of breast cancer, compared with maintaining a stable weight," said study lead author Jiyoung Ahn, a fellow with the nutritional epidemiology branch at the National Cancer Institute's division of cancer epidemiology and genetics. "Specific stages include during early reproductive years, late reproductive years, and perimenopausal and postmenopausal years."

Ahn's findings included women who did not take menopausal hormone therapy, which has been linked to a heightened risk of breast cancer.

"This is just one more very important piece of evidence demonstrating the importance of weight gain to the development of breast cancer," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La.

The findings are published in the Oct. 22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Obesity has been shown to be a risk factor for breast cancer during the postmenopausal years. This is probably because estrogens, which fuel breast cancer growth, accumulate in fat tissue. It's been unclear, however, if the timing of weight gain might influence risk.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed data on almost 100,000 postmenopausal women who were participating in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

At the beginning of the study, in 1996, the women reported their weight and body measurements at ages 18, 35 and 50. They were then classified, based on their b
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