Excess weight doubles breast cancer risk

A staggering amount of Australians are overweight, and of these, 28% of these are women[1]. The link between chronic disease and obesity is well known, and carrying excess weight increases the chance of breast cancer, particularly the oestrogen-dependent type.

It’s scary but true – being overweight or obese more than doubles the risk of developing breast cancer.[2] Overall, weight gain and obesity account for more than 20% of cancer cases, and this number is expected to rise.

What’s the link?

Fat cells (known as adipocytes), produce their own oestrogen, along with other compounds that increase inflammatory and oxidative processes within the body. Oestrogen is a proliferative hormone, causing faster cell division and growth of new blood vessels to provide nutrients for forming tumours. Excess weight is generally accompanied by increased blood sugar levels, creating an environment that is perfect for cancerous cell growth – they feed on sugar!

By the same token, lack of exercise is an independent factor in the development of breast cancer. Studies show that lack of activity increases the risk of cancer by 10% – for those who also have a BMI over 25, this number is much greater. [3]

Lifestyle changes can make the biggest difference

Simple lifestyle changes make a huge difference. Eating 5-6 servings of vegies per week & walking the equivalent of 30 minutes, 6 days a week decreases breast cancer risk by 44%![4] This combination of appropriate diet, exercise and weight management is incredibly important and the most effective measure that can be taken to protect against breast cancer, and chronic disease in general.



[1] Heart Foundation, 2012

[2] Alshuler, L. Health Masters Live, 2014.

[3] Alshuler, L. Health Masters Live, 2014.

[4] Alshuler, L. Health Masters Live, 2014