New research that has explored the breast cancer risk for almost 800,000 women around the world has revealed that, before the menopause, having a high BMI reduces your risk of developing the disease.
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) collaborated with scientists from a number of universities around the world to examine and analyse the data from numerous breast cancer studies.
Almost one-fifth of breast cancer cases diagnosed in the UK are found in women under the age of 50, and this research, which looked at the data of 758,592 women, revealed there was a 12 to 23 per cent reduction in risk of developing breast cancer per five BMI unit increase, depending on age.
In the 18 to 24 age group, the study found that women with a BMI of 30kg/m2 or more who were defined as obese, were 4.2 times less likely to develop breast cancer than those in the lowest BMI category who were defined as underweight.
However, lead author of the study and staff scientist at the ICR Dr Minouk Schoemaker pointed out that once women go through the menopause this changes, with obesity associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.
She stressed that more research now needs to be carried out to “understand why this effect seems to be reversed in younger women”.
While all of this research into the causes of breast cancer is vital, it’s also important to make sure that you regularly examine your breasts for any changes, regardless of your age or weight.
Earlier this year TV presenter Charlotte Hawkins urged women to make sure they’re regularly checking their breasts.
If you’re not confident at examining yourself, a breast self examination device could be a good investment.