Dr. Thomson discusses how weight control can affect a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
In terms of weight control, what we know is that women who are overweight are at risk more for postmenopausal breast cancer than premenopausal breast cancer, and of course most breast cancers are post-menopausal.
What also happens is women tend to gain a lot of weight through adult life. For example, in our Women’s Healthy Eating and Living study, what we found was that women reported that when they were 18, their body weight was about 115-120 pounds. By the time they were diagnosed with breast cancer, and in this group it was age 52-53, what they had was a body weight that was about 170 pounds, and they had this kind of incremental weight gain throughout adult life.
So one of thing is that I recommend, is that we begin to pay attention when we gain five pounds, when we gain ten pounds, when we have that child, or we go to a certain job, or we just get busy and quit exercising in the same way, we need to pay attention. When your pant size or your dress size goes up, pay attention.
When you go to the doctor, physicians need to pay attention. If they see that their patients have gained five pounds, they should query them and find out what is going on that contributed to that, and not simply go, “Well, she has got a lot of other issues. I am not going to worry about that body weight.” That’s, we tend to kind of dismiss it and accept it as just part of aging, and what we end up with is people in midlife having to lose 30, 40, 50, 60 pounds, and it’s overwhelming. It’s so difficult to get that kind of weight off.
And so I would really recommend that women pay attention. When your weight goes up a little, get excited about it and do something to correct that problem.
About Dr. Thomson, Ph.D., R.D.:
Dr. Cynthia Thomson, Ph.D., R.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona. She is a registered dietitian with a doctoral degree in nutritional sciences. She has been conducting cancer research since 1994. Dr. Thomson was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2003.