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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 Lap-Band System is indicated for weight reduction for patients with obesity, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40 kg/m2 or a BMI of at least 30 kg/m2 with one or more obesity-related comorbid conditions. It is indicated for use only in adult patients who have failed more conservative weight reduction alternatives, such as supervised diet, exercise and behavior modification programs. Patients who elect to have this surgery must make the commitment to accept significant changes in their eating habits for the rest of their lives.

The Lap-Band System is not recommended for non-adult patients (patients under 18 years of age), patients with conditions that may make them poor surgical candidates or increase the risk of poor results, who are unwilling or unable to comply with the required dietary restrictions, or who currently are or may be pregnant.

The Lap-Band System is a long-term implant. Explant and replacement surgery may be required. Patients who become pregnant or severely ill, or who require more extensive nutrition may require deflation of their bands. Anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin, should be used with caution and may contribute to an increased risk of band erosion.

Placement of the Lap-Band System is major surgery and, as with any surgery, death can occur. Possible complications include the risks associated with the medications and methods used during surgery, the risks associated with any surgical procedure, and the patient’s ability to tolerate a foreign object implanted in the body. Most common related adverse events include: Band slippage, pouch dilation, stoma obstruction, gastroesophageal reflux, esophageal dilation, cholelithiasis, incisional infection, abdominal pain, gastroenteritis, or nausea and vomiting may occur. Reoperation may be required. Rapid weight loss may result in complications that may require additional surgery. Deflation of the band may alleviate excessively rapid weight loss or esophageal dilation.

Important: For full safety information please click here or talk with your doctor.