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Postmenopausal Weight Linked to Breast Cancer Risk

Gaining weight ups the odds; losing weight reduces them

TUESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal weight gain is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, and weight loss at the same time of life is associated with a reduced risk, according to a study in the July 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A. Heather Eliassen, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study of 87,143 postmenopausal women aged 30 to 55 years who did not have cancer, and followed them for up to 26 years from 1976 to 2002, assessing weight change since age 18. Of the sample, 49,514 women had their postmenopause weight change assessed for up to 24 years.

During the study, 4,393 cases of invasive breast cancer were detected. Women who gained 25 kg or more from their weight at age 18 increased their odds of breast cancer 1.45 times, compared with those who maintained a stable weight.

Among women who had never taken postmenopausal hormones, those who lost 10 kg or more after menopause and maintained their new weight had a lower risk (relative risk, 0.43) of developing breast cancer compared to those who only maintained their weight.

"Our results provide another reason for women approaching menopause to maintain or lose weight, as appropriate," the authors conclude.

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