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Study Ties Expanding Waistlines to Increased Risk of Postmenopausal Breast Cancer

First Posted: Sep 26, 2014 07:29 AM EDT

Increase in even one skirt size in a period of 10 years ups the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women and is mostly diagnosed among women who are 50 years and older. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 220,097 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,931 died from this cancer. Even young women develop breast cancer.

In the latest study, the researchers evaluated the data of 93,000 women who were part of the UK collaborative trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening, England, and found that mid 20s-30s is a critical period as it helps diagnose the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. According to the researchers, thickening of the waist during the mid-20s-50s is very harmful as it indicates greater risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.

The study clearly reveals the importance of cutting off the midriff bulge. The study included women of the age 50, who had gone through menopause. They did not have breast cancer at the time of enrolment between 2005 and 2010. At the time of enrolment, the researchers gathered details of height and weight, reproductive health, family history of breast cancer, use of hormonal contraceptive and HRT and factors that influence risk of breast cancer. Apart from this, the researchers also asked their current skirt size and the size during their 20s.

Most of the study participants were white and received education to university degree level and were overweight at the start of the study with BMI between 25 and 26.

During the follow up, 2090 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, revealing the risk of 1 percent. Also, there was a strong association between infertility treatment family history of breast cancer, use of HRT and elevated risk of being diagnosed with the disease.

But after considering all the factors, increase in skirt size was the strongest predictor of breast cancer risk. Every 3 out of 4 women had an increase in skirt size. Going up one skirt size every 10 years had a 33 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer after menopause, going up two skirt sizes in the same period was linked with 77 increased risk.

"But an expanding waistline has been linked to other cancers, including those of the pancreas, lining of the womb, and ovaries, they point out, possibly because midriff fat is more harmful. Although the exact mechanism of these relationships need to be better understood, there is a suggestion that body fat around the waist is more metabolically active than adipose tissue elsewhere," they write.

The finding was presented in the BMJ British Medical Journal.

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