Physical Inactivity and Breast Cancer

Scientists have now learned that physical inactivity and obesity can significantly raise the risk of breast cancer, according to a study reported in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. Obesity risk has long been associated with a number of diseases and now certain types of breast cancers can be added to the list.

Women who are considered very obese increase their risk of being diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, while also having a 39 percent higher risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive cancer of the breast. Further, a 23 percent reduction in the risk of triple-negative breast cancer was experienced by the most physically active women. Lastly, women considered to be the most physically active experienced a 15 percent reduction in their risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

A lack of estrogen, progesterone and HER2 expression characterize triple-negative breast cancer, which comprises about 10 to 20 percent of all breast cancers. Historically, poor outcomes are associated with triple-negative breast cancer because of the lack of effective medications. What is noteworthy about this finding is that triple-negative breast cancer is very different biologically that other types of breast cancers.

Scientists have known about the link between the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and obesity risk for some time by studying the illness and health patterns of this population group. As such, research now suggests that women who engage in increased physical activity reduce their risk of breast cancer. It is thought that there is a relationship between estrogen and adipose tissue, which contributes to this risk.

If you’re obese and physically inactive, see your Ft. Myers or Naples, Florida physician to discuss your weight loss goals along with your risks of developing either estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer or triple-negative breast cancer.