Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets underway in October. Are you aware of its link to your weight?
We’re in for a wave of pink as Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets underway in October! We’ve all seen the small, crossed ribbons that are used to create awareness of various diseases or situations, but did you know that the Susan G. Komen Foundation was among the first to distribute these effective visual reminders to those who participated in the Komen New York Race for the Cure in 1991?
While there are dozens of different colored ribbons, the pink ones stand out as a valuable reminder that breast cancer continues to be a risk to women everywhere. This is important to know because cases of breast cancer continue to rise with a one in eight chance that a woman will develop it.
Can Being Overweight Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer?
Yes. The risk of getting breast cancer, like several other cancers, increases for people who are overweight or have obesity. This is particularly true for post-menopausal women who were overweight or had obesity thought their adult life or gained weight in their adult life. Excess weight also creates challenges after cancer treatments, increasing some health risks and resulting in lower physical and functional well-being. Fortunately, increased awareness (thank you, pink ribbons!), early screening and effective treatments have helped maintain or reduce the likelihood of death from this cancer.
Weight Loss and Exercise are the Best Preventative Measures
Pre-menopausal women have lower weight-related risk and actually may have some protections in their early adult life (under the age of 30). That said, maintaining a healthy weight is the recommendation for all women as a preventive measure. Physical activity is also important because a lack of exercise increases breast cancer risk. Luckily the reverse is also true and increased physical activity improves outcomes and helps boost immunity.
As with so many things, the combination of weight loss and exercise is the best approach because even a small weight gain can increase the risk of getting breast cancer, and the more weight gained, the higher the risk. Again, the reverse works in your favor — and losing even five percent of body weight can reduce the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
There also are other factors beyond our control that contribute to breast cancer risk such as family history and genetic issues. This means that chances are high that we all know someone who has or had breast cancer. So take care of yourself, and stock up on little pink ribbons to share the knowledge with the women you love! Think pink!
About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.