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How Your Weight Affects Breast Health

Being overweight or obese puts you at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, but why? It might sound a bit science-y, but it all comes down to the metabolic patterns that accompany changes in body composition, like:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased estrogen levels
  • Adipose tissue dysfunction (this means some fat cells produce chemical messengers that disrupt metabolism)
  • Chronic inflammation

Basically, your breasts respond to your whole-body metabolism. 

The patterns listed above can happen if you gain weight around the middle, as is common at menopause. Surprisingly, they can also happen if you lose weight and muscle mass because of treatments for breast issues. Either way, one of the best ways to get your metabolism back on track is through diet and lifestyle. 

The next logical question is, “what type of diet is best?” 

A study published earlier this year in the journal Nutrients asked that exact question. They compared 3 different diets in women who were survivors of breast cancer. Here’s what they found:

  • The low-carb diet significantly improved most metabolic markers 
  • The low-carb diet supported the most impressive improvements in quality of life
  • The ketogenic diet most supported physical performance and the muscle:fat ratio
  • The ketogenic diet also supported the biggest improvement in insulin resistance
  • Both the low-carb diet and ketogenic diet were more effective at improving metabolic markers than the standard diet

So, I wouldn’t say there is one “best” diet for breast health, but following either a low-carb or ketogenic diet may have its benefits. Every person is unique, and what worked for one woman may not work for you. 

I also caution you against jumping into a ketogenic diet without medical supervision. There are risks and pitfalls involved.

I work with my clients every day to help them find a dietary plan that is customized to their unique needs. Would you like to work with me too? 

References
Iwase T, Wang X, Shrimanker TV, Kolonin MG, Ueno NT. Body composition and breast cancer risk and treatment: mechanisms and impact. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2021; 186: 273-283. [link]. Kämmerer U, Klement RJ, Joos FT, Sütterlin M, Reuss-Borst M. Low Carb and Ketogenic Diets Increase Quality of Life, Physical Performance, Body Composition, and Metabolic Health of Women with Breast Cancer. Nutrients. 2021; 13: 1029. [link]

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