Health scare of the week
Body fat and breast cancer
Older women with excess body fat have a heightened risk of developing breast cancer, reports CNN.com—even if they have a normal body-mass index. Researchers tracked the body composition of 3,460 American women ages 50 to 79, all of whom had gone through menopause and had a supposedly healthy BMI, for an average of 16 years. Of those women, 146 developed estrogen-dependent breast cancer. The researchers found that an 11-pound increase in whole-body fat mass was linked to a 35 percent increased risk of contracting the disease. A similar fat mass increase in the torso was linked to a 56 percent rise in risk. An 11-pound mass increase was also connected to a higher risk of invasive breast cancer: 28 percent for whole-body weight gain, and 46 percent for an increase in torso fat. BMI is calculated through a formula involving height and weight, and doesn’t factor in fat. But “it makes sense that if you have excess fat, you will also have increased inflammation and elevated cancer risk, even if BMI is normal,” says lead author Andrew Dannenberg, a cancer specialist at Weill Cornell Medicine.