This Single Stat Raises Your Risk For Invasive Breast Cancer

Obesity has long been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. But new research suggests that high body-fat levels increase this risk for all women — even women of average weight.

In an analysis of data from postmenopausal women with normal body-mass indexes, those who had a higher percentage of body fat were found to be at higher risk for invasive breast cancer than women with lower levels of body fat.

“Our findings show that the risk of invasive breast cancer is increased in postmenopausal women with normal BMI and higher levels of body fat, meaning that a large proportion of the population has an unrecognized risk of developing cancer,” study author Neil Iyengar says in a statement. His team presented the findings at an American Association for Cancer Research conference.

Women with the most body fat were found to have double the risk for a certain type of breast cancer than those in the lowest quartile. The data also showed that physical activity levels were lower in women with higher amounts of body fat, which suggests that exercise is an important factor in staying cancer-free.

While study authors caution that the findings only apply to breast cancer and to postmenopausal women, they say they hope that the news will help women — and their doctors — better understand their level of risk.

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