Will losing weight reduce the chance I’ll get breast cancer?

I’m about 20 pounds overweight.

Yes! Losing even a little weight after menopause can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer, according to a new study. 

Losing as little as five pounds can reduce your risk of breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and others analyzed a group of prospective studies of 180,000 women aged 50 and older. The study, which was specific to women not using postmenopausal hormones, found that the larger the amount of sustained weight loss, the lower was the risk of breast cancer. Women who lost 4.4 to 10 pounds had a 13 percent lower risk than women who didn’t lose weight. Women who lost 10 to 20 pounds had a 16 percent lower risk. And women who lost 20 pounds or more had a 26 percent lower risk.

The most encouraging finding is that you don’t need to lose much weight to reduce the risk—just five pounds. Let’s say you drink a Starbucks Caffe Latte every weekday. If you changed that to just twice a week, you could drop about five pounds in a year (assuming a “tall” has 140 calories and that you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound; your mileage may vary). Exercise can also help with weight loss—and it has other benefits, too, including improved flexibility and balance, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and better mental health. 

Good luck with losing the weight. You can do it!