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Breast cancer and obesity

December 10, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that approximately 42.4% of the American adult population is obese. Does obesity increase your risk for breast cancer? Obesity can make the risk of certain medical conditions increase, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes, and some cancers. Unfortunately, obesity is linked to a higher risk of getting breast cancer. 

High estrogen levels

Women who are overweight or obese after menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer. Menopause typically happens in a woman’s forties or fifties, occurring after a woman has her last menstrual cycle. Menopause is marked by the decline in reproductive hormones. The ovaries stop producing the hormone estrogen, which means the remaining estrogen in the body comes from fat tissue. The more fat tissue in the body following menopause, the higher the estrogen levels. A woman with obesity is also more likely to have a high level of insulin in her body, which has been linked to breast cancer. 

Unclear research 

However, the link between breast cancer is not clear-cut, and experts still have a lot of questions to answer. For instance, some research shows that women who have struggled with being overweight since childhood may not share the increased breast cancer risk that women who gain weight after menopause have. Additionally, certain types of breast cancer, such as hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, may be more likely than other types depending on weight gained after menopause versus before.  

Breast cancer risk factors 

Given how complicated the link between obesity and breast cancer is, it’s important to understand the other risk factors for breast cancer. Experts do still suggest that obesity is linked to breast cancer, so avoiding weight gain is important. Consuming even one alcoholic drink per day is linked to breast cancer, while the risk of developing breast cancer increases as the drinks per day increase. Some forms of birth control and hormone therapy following menopause can increase the risk of breast cancer too. Still, the most important link appears to be physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle can increase breast cancer risk in women, so experts recommend that women hoping to reduce their risk of breast cancer should exercise regularly.  

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To review the risk and symptoms of breast cancer, visit: If you are concerned about your risk for breast cancer, talk to your doctor.

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Important Lap-Band® System Safety Information

The ReShape Lap-Band Systems are approved for adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or a BMI of at least 30 with health conditions related to obesity, who have not seen success with other weight loss methods, like supervised diet, exercise, and behavior modification programs. Choosing this surgery means committing to changes in eating habits for the long term.

The Lap-Band procedure is not approved for individuals under 18 yo, those with conditions that may make them poor surgical candidates or lead to poor results, such as inflammatory or cardiopulmonary diseases, problems with the stomach and digestion, symptoms or family history of autoimmune disease, scarring of the liver, individuals unable or unwilling to follow the necessary dietary restrictions, individuals with alcohol or drug addictions, or those currently pregnant. Individuals who become pregnant after band placement may require deflation of their bands.

The ReShape Lap-Band Systems, a long-term tool, may need to be adjusted if you get pregnant, sick, or malnourished. Be careful with anti-inflammatory drugs as they could make the band wear away. Like any surgery, placement of the Lap-Band may have complications such as risks from drugs and methods used, general surgery risks, how well your body handles a foreign object, or in rare cases, risk of death.

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with metabolic and bariatric surgery that you and your doctor should discuss. Potential risks associated with the Lap-Band include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach blockage, constipation, swallowing difficulty, diarrhea, abnormal stools, abdominal pain, weakness, incision pain, infection, fever, hernia, chest pain, band movement, stomach pouch expansion, unusual healing, pain at the port site, port movement, and/or hair loss. Additional surgery might be needed. Losing weight quickly could lead to complications requiring more surgery. 

Talk to your doctor, and/or visit our website at for more information on its benefits and risks.