Weight Loss and Breast Cancer

By Charlyn Fargo

October 12, 2018 5 min read

October is breast cancer awareness month. The fight to find a cure is dear to many of our hearts, as we've been touched by family and friends who have had to fight this battle.

A new study finds there is a powerful weapon available to all of us to prevent breast cancer: losing as little as 5 percent of our body weight.

A study in the journal, Cancer, found that women who experienced weight loss of at least 5 percent of their body weight were at a 12 percent lower risk of having breast cancer, compared with women with stable weight. The findings, based on data for 61,335 women in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study without a history of breast cancer and with normal mammograms, also showed that weight gain of at least 5 percent was tied to increased incidence of triple-negative breast cancer.

The women in the study had body weight and height measured and body mass index calculated at baseline and then three years later. Weight change after three years was categorized as stable (less than 5 percent body weight), loss (more than or equal to a 5 percent loss) or gain (more than 5 percent).

During a follow-up about 11 years after the third year in the study, 3,061 women developed invasive breast cancer. Compared with women of stable weight, those who lost weight had a lower risk. Weight gain was not associated with higher overall breast cancer risk but was associated with a higher risk of triple-negative breast cancer.

Obesity has already been established as a risk factor in postmenopausal breast cancer, but in this study, the researchers evaluated associations between weight change and breast cancer risk. Researchers concluded that postmenopausal women who lose weight have a lower breast cancer risk than those with stable weight.

That's reason enough to skip that piece of chocolate cake and work on losing a few pounds.

Q and A

Q: Can eating walnuts help lower my blood cholesterol?

A: Yes, according to a recent analysis of 26 clinical trials in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Most of the studies had participants consume 1 to 2 ounces of walnuts a day for 4 to 8 weeks. Walnut eaters had, on average, a 7-point drop in total cholesterol and a nearly 6-point drop in LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) compared to people who didn't eat walnuts. Triglyceride levels also declined modestly. Like all nuts, walnuts are rich in unsaturated fats, fiber, sterols, polyphenols and other compounds that can improve blood lipid levels, as well as provide key vitamins and minerals. Unlike other nuts, walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat related to those found in fish.

Information courtesy of University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter.


We celebrate pork in October. Here's a recipe that's quick and healthy and uses one of my favorite cuts: the pork tenderloin. It's from Ellie Kreiger's "The Food You Crave."


1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch thick medallions

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped shallot

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup dried tart cherries

Season pork medallions with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the meat until there is a slight blush in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate and tent with aluminum foil. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and shallot to the pan and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 1 minute. Add the broth, vinegar, remaining salt and cherries and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Pour the sauce over the pork medallions and serve. Serves 4 (serving size is 4 medallions and 2 tablespoons sauce).

Per serving: 245 calories, 31 grams protein, 8.5 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fat, 92 milligrams cholesterol, 0 grams fiber, 380 milligrams sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with Hy-Vee in Springfield, Illinois, and a spokesperson for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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