New research links a woman's weight gain in adulthood to an increased risk of breast cancer. Obesity increases breast cancer risk, but new research suggests that the timing of a woman's weight gain may be important. Doctors from the national cancer institute asked nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women to recall their weight at age 18, 35, and 50. They found that weight gain in adulthood did not modify breast cancer risk for women who used post menopausal hormones, because hormone therapy can itself increase breast cancer risk, obscuring any effect of weight. But among non-hormone users, adult weight gain increased the odds of breast cancer. Women who were trim at age 18 but overweight at ages 35 and 50 had a 40 percent increased chance of breast cancer compared to women who stayed at a normal weight. However, for women who were overweight their entire lives, breast cancer risk did not change. Doctors theorize that weight gained during adulthood is more likely to be fat, and excess fat triggers hormone changes that lead to an increase in breast cancer. For more information on breast cancer, please visit ABC News's new breast cancer web site.
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