Every year, Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings us newsflash after newsflash on how our lifestyle and genetics influence our risk of the disease. But what about the things that are actually guarding us from it? We all know eating healthy, being active, not smoking, etc. helps. Turns out, research has shown various random or counterintuitive things protect us from breast cancer, too.
Consider a new study from France, which involved nearly 100,000 French women between the ages of 40 and 65. It found that the women who happened to be chubby pre-teens were actually 26 percent less likely to develop breast cancer after menopause! Specifically, it was the women who had the largest bodies at age 8 and when they started their periods who were less likely to have the disease later in life, compared to women with the smallest bodies at those points in their lives. Weird! And whoa -- would you ever think they'd be grateful for having been a chubby tween?!
But it does beg the Q ... why would having been chubby as a youngster matter? Researchers say that maybe in overweight girls, the breast tissue is less dense, which can decrease breast cancer risk. Or maybe it has something to do with starting your period earlier, then having irregular cycles, so risk is not what would be expected. But seems to me like they don't really know how to explain it. It's kind of a mystery!
It does bear noting that no association between body size and breast cancer risk was found at other ages, so it's not like you could say that being overweight in your 40s will protect you from breast cancer. It's more likely the opposite is true, considering the bulk of research. (And of course it would be silly to look at these findings as some sort of wacky excuse for childhood obesity, duh.)
Regardless of what this all means, it's good to know that there are aspects there that may be out of our control that are actually protecting us vs. hurting us in the breast cancer department. And that when studying the disease, researchers seem to be caring enough to factor in our pasts, as well as our presents.
What do you make of this study?
Image via Tessa Anne Watte/Flickr