That's the conclusion of a study reported this summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers tracked more than 87,000 postmenopausal women for up to 24 years. They were all cancer-free when the study started. Those who put on 44 pounds or more since the age of 18 had a 50 percent higher risk of getting breast cancer.
"Younger women who are overweight don't seem to have the same risk however, young women who are overweight tend to gain weight over time, so that this is going to affect their risk as they become postmenopausal," said Anne McTiernan with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The study found that women who lost weight -- 22 pounds since hitting menopause -- had a much lower risk of getting breast cancer.
"Keep your weight stable, keep it to the normal range. And women can do that best by a healthy diet, eating lots of vegetables and fruit and keeping up their regular physical activity," McTiernan said.
By the way, Fred Hutchinson is looking for women to take part in two new breast cancer studies:
- Information about the Nutrition and Exercise for Women Study
- Information about the study to determine whether a special type of medication can prevent breast cancer in healthy postmenopausal women who are at an increased risk for developing breast cancer.
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