The research partly funded by VicHealth, Cancer Council Victoria, and the Australia National Health and Medical Research Council has revealed that women with higher body mass index (BMI), especially in early adulthood, may be at a lower risk of developing breast cancer prior to menopause.
The research looked at 19 different studies, including Australian data, covering more than 750,000 women. It found that for women aged 18 to 54, breast cancer risk went down as BMI went up. This link was strongest for women aged 18 to 24.
The study authors say that they are not advocating weight gain as a way to reduce breast cancer risk but that understanding this link might help to identify risk factors that might be modified.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. Breast cancer’s origin is complex and it includes a wide range of factors, among them how much body fat a woman has, a measure often assessed by BMI (a calculation of weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared).