Weight gain affects breast cancer risk

In the past two weeks, several new reports have shed further light on the link between diet and disease. If summer holidays and beach sorties aren't enough to get you losing weight, then the latest report from Oxford University might give you the motivation you need. Their research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, revealed that excess weight is one of the leading causes of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

Another reason to lose weight is that doing so can help you lower your blood pressure. Reducing your intake of salt will help to this end - and this means not adding salt to food that you are cooking or using salt at the table. As if those weren't strong enough reasons to get women eating a healthier diet this summer, official figures suggest teenage girls are among the worst for eating a balanced diet – with only half getting the recommended amount of iron in their diets, and most not eating enough fruit and veg on a daily basis. With schools out for the summer, the end-of-term report card for the girls reads: "D-, Must do better!"

A study by the University of Oxford, which was published in the British Journal of Cancer, and was funded by Cancer Research UK, has revealed that excess weight increases the risk of breast cancer.

The research showed that post-menopausal women who have a high BMI will have higher levels of hormones known to increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer.

Dr Gillian Reeves, co-author of the research, said: "Our study shows that changes in hormone levels might explain the association of established risk factors such as obesity with breast cancer risk."

Smoking and regular drinking were also found to increase levels of hormones which increase the risk of developing the disease.

In 2006, a study by the Journal of the American Association found that post-menopausal women who put on just 22 lbs in weight had an 18 per cent increased chance of developing breast cancer.

Losing that amount of weight reduced the risk of getting the disease by 57 per cent, the researchers found.

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