There is a short video on King5tv.com of Dr. Li’s recent research following 1100 women with breast cancer, trying to determine if lifestyle plays a factor in who gets recurrences or secondary breast cancers:
What I find most interesting is that obesity is only a risk factor for post-menopausal women. In pre-menopausal women, being overweight actually results in less breast cancer risk than having an appropriate BMI. In some ways this is a relief to me since I can’t help but wonder if I caused my cancer. If I had exercised more, if I had lost 20lbs, if I had cut sugar from my diet, could I have saved myself from this? It looks like the answer is likely “no.”
When I look around at my support group, which is women diagnosed with BC under age 40, I see lots of thin, active women. I see non-smokers, women without family histories, etc. So this research in some ways puts my guilt at ease. But it’s also frustrating. Why are so many young women getting breast cancer? Why is it more aggressive in young women? Why does a young woman in her 30s with breast cancer have a much higher chance of dying from the disease than a woman diagnosed in her 60s? Why does the northwest have more cases than other parts of the country?
And as much as I want to know the answers to those questions, I want a cure more. I want to put behind us the push for early detection and awareness and focus now on what to do for the women that already have cancer. There is so much emphasis on prevention– which has its own importance, of course. But we need attention put on finding the cure, too.
UPDATE: The original title for the story was “Obesity drastically increases the risk of breast cancer.” After watching the video, I complained to SCCA and King5 that the title was misleading. They agreed and just changed it to:
“Obesity may increase breast cancer recurrence in some women, study finds”