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Breast Cancer Risk Increases With Weight Gain

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We are accustomed to hearing about the link between weight gain and diabetes or hypertension but I don’t think we necessarily link weight gain with breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute wants us to think again about the old nemesis of breast cancer.

A National Cancer Institute (NCI) study of 72,000 women found that those who had a normal body mass index at age 20 and gained weight as they aged had nearly double the risk of developing breast cancer after menopause in comparison to women maintained their weight. The average 60 year-old woman's risk of developing breast cancer by age 65 is about 2 percent; her lifetime risk is 13 percent.

"Weight gain is a major risk factor for breast cancer," said study co-author Regina Ziegler, an epidemiologist at NCI.

"It can play as much of a role as other known risk factors, like family history of cancer, or the age at first menstruation or childbirth, says Because the accumulation of excess body fat over time increases the level of estrogen in the body, weight gain is thought to fuel the growth of most post-menopausal breast cancer tumors.

So, the same old story holds true: regular exercise, healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices give you the best chance to live healthy throughout your life. Make no mistake, regular exercise is critical for helping you maintain a healthy weight as you age.

Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy weight throughout life:

1. Improve your body’s composition and speed up your metabolism. You must increase muscle mass to become a “fat-burning machine.” Your metabolism will speed up when you build muscle. Concentrate on compound (multi-joint) strength exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, planks and rows because they work and build more muscle groups. Do less single-joint exercises like biceps curls and tricep extensions.

2. You need to know how many calories your body needs throughout your life; if you are 40 years old, you can’t continue to eat like you did at age 20. Find out your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is the amount of daily calories your body needs to maintain itself.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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