Health Desk-- 24 June, 2018: A recent study has found that a higher body fat is linked to lower breast cancer risk among pre-menopausal women.
The study showed that there was 23 per cent lower breast cancer risk linked to each five-unit increase in body mass index (BMI) between the ages of 18 and 24. At ages 25 to 34, each five-unit increase in BMI was linked to 15 per cent lower risk.
There was a 13 per cent lower risk for BMI at ages 35 to 44, and a 12 per cent lower risk for BMI at ages 45 to 54 years. “We saw a trend where, as BMI went up, cancer risk went down. There was no threshold at which having a higher BMI was linked to lower cancer risk,” said Hazel B. Nichols, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina. The trend could be attributed to multiple factors such as differences in hormones, including estrogen — primary female sex hormone — growth factors, or breast density, Nichols said.
Estrogen has known to be a key driver of breast cancer. But, the small amount of estrogen produced by fat tissue before menopause may help tell the ovaries that they can produce less estrogen and also regulate other hormones or growth factors, Nichols said, adding that after menopause, women with higher adipose tissue have higher estrogen levels and usually a higher breast cancer risk.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Oncology.