Breast cancer is not “as simple as that.”

Vesta44 has a great post today about an article which claims exercise can help reduce breast cancer risk in women. How does the magic exercise pill work? Why, by reducing “the pounds,” (i.e., icky evil FATZ), of course! And we all know that extra of “the pounds” has been shown to be an automatic death sentence, leaving anyone over forty diabetic, in constant cardiac arrest, and riddled with cancers, right?

The diabetes and cardiac part we’ll wait on: La Wade is still experimenting on fat mice to get her slice of the anti-obesity wonder drug pie, so perhaps she’ll turn up the diabetes/heart disease/cancer/ruining pictures/ruining moment miracle cure soon. Stay tuned to the totally objective analyses on Phat Science for that one, folks! Oh, did I mention that because all the major studies claim a weight loss success rate of between 0% and 20% (the higher one being only a one-year study), we can therefore only conclude that weight loss success rates are greater than 0% and less than 100%? (i.e., we can’t conclude anything about weight loss success rates) Oh wait, that’s a logical fallacy? Ya don’t say? Damn that wily Carl Sagan and his Baloney Toolbox. You’re going to have to ask La Wade how she arrived at *that* particular conclusion!

But back to our original programming. So fat = cancer (risk!) right? You know what also equal cancer risk? Being tall. Yup, says so right here.

They found that the risk of experiencing breast cancer increased by 7% with each 5cm increase in height for post-menopausal women, with a marginally increased risk among pre-menopausal women.

But that’s not all! You couldn’t write an article about injecting something about teh tehriffic tehrible fatz in it, could you?

Women who are significantly overweight later in life are 26% more likely to develop breast cancer compared with those of average weight.

That’s right. So how do we interpret that as actual personal, and not comparative risk? Right now, the average risk is about 12% per person (and that’s averaged over women who do and do not have genetic predispositions. So your risk is much less than that if you aren’t genetically predisposed). So since “significantly” overweight women (and by overweight, they’re using BMI definitions — so this isn’t even obese, people) will get breast cancer at a rate of 1.26 to every 1 non-overweight woman, then their risk for getting breast cancer is a whopping 15.12%.

So being “significantly overweight” earns you a 3% higher actual risk of getting breast cancer. See how statistics are manipulated in order to look scarier than they actually are?

But wait, there’s more from this fun little article:

Paradoxically, however, being obese appears to have a protective effect in women before the menopause.

Since they’re scared of stating this stat (scared of losing their grant money, that is), we don’t know how *much* of a protective effect being obese before menopause has. It’s not good marketing to use comparative statistics on the non-lucrative stats, you know.

Even the article writer seems to miss this last one. The article title is “Tall + Fat = Cancer”? Where did this person graduate from, the Hurst School of Yellow Journalism? Or just Clown College? Jesus, really.

So it seems like there isn’t some magical prescription to make sure you don’t get cancer. If you’re not genetically predisposed, your risk is small, and if you’re overweight it’s a tiny bit higher, and if you’re obese before menopause it’s a tiny bit lower. Therefore, “diet and exercise reduces cancer risk by shedding pounds” is a fallacy.

And that, folks, is as simple as that.

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12 comments on “Breast cancer is not “as simple as that.”

  1. Bee says:

    Frankly, I don’t even listen to these clowns any more…

    But I’m with you on the ‘Fuck off, already’ bandwagon because I see how much of an impact these much hyped studies have, even on the people who saw me being equally unhealthy at both 85 and 185 and should therfore be a little more skeptical when confronted with such quackery. But I digress.

  2. anniemcphee says:

    OMG I’m so going to hell. Your first two paragraphs had me laughing hysterically. Fat mice LOL. BL, I wish I could be funny like that! The best I could come up with was hahafatpants 😀

    Ohhh I’m not even done reading yet, but that was too funny.

  3. BigLiberty says:

    Thanks Annie, I’m not very sympathetic to trolls, as you can tell. 🙂

    I’ll tell you one thing — the clamp-down on pregnant women’s bodies has me scared shitless. You’re forced to go to a hospital if you’re labeled a “high-risk” pregnancy, guidelines determined by some group lobbying for pharma money, and now with that newborn genetic screening bill passing (check JFS for a recent post on this), the baby that you were forced to have in the hospital will forcibly have its genetic profile done and will be forcibly entered into some life-long health monitoring program depending on what risk factors he or she has.

    I mean, I swear to fuck, it’s like living in this weird Huxley or Orwell sci-fi world. Big Brother — The Government-Appointment Health Monitoring Agency — is watching your babies and, by proxy, you (better not let them get fat, that’s child abuse!)

  4. anniemcphee says:

    There is another VERY scary thing going on with pregnant women – a new bill that proposes to start drugging a majority of pregnant women with antipsychotic drugs. Even though they can cause deformities and interfere with the baby’s brain. You’re not even supposed to take them if you’re nursing. Even if they cause suicides. This is the Healthy Mothers bill, or act, and it’s very very frightening. Presumably this is to prevent post-partum depression. WTF?

    http://postpartumprogress.typepad.com/weblog/2008/04/more-bloggers-s.html

    There’s some info there, but I am genuinely scared for new mothers for many reasons. Not the least of which is that they are being denied their right to a natural birth because of BAD MEDICAL SCIENCE, and that now apparently they’re going to be denied their right to a healthy, drug-free, private baby.

    Oh yeah, it’s bad all right. Real real bad. (But then I’ve been railing against CPS for about 18 years now – only now that it’s affecting fat are some progressives starting to see that maybe CPS isn’t such a great thing.)

  5. anniemcphee says:

    Oh, and please sign the petition. Not that online petitions do any good, but someone has to try and stop that bill from passing.

  6. BigLiberty says:

    The FUCK I’d let ANYONE drug me if I got pregnant. This is going to force pregnant women underground, to struggle through their pregnancies without going to doctors or having any normal monitoring. We already can’t actually have private babies anymore — if you’re labeled “high-risk” (a label being used more and more liberally) the act of having gotten pregnant has delivered you into the government’s hands. You can’t even give birth to your child privately, since someone “certified” has to oversee the birth, ‘cuz that’s a future citizen there, dinchaknow? And as soon as they’re six we’re going to take ownership over their futures and health in the public school system at any rate, and then we’re going to take further ownership over them by fabricating child abuse arguments based on shit-based science.

    The science of health has become, in our modern age, the tool of fascists. Especially the science of “obesity.” That’s why we’ve got to keep reminding ourself how important this fight is, how important it is to keep it up. We’re not just crusaders for the freedom of fat people, we’re crusaders for the freedom of *all* people.

  7. anniemcphee says:

    Preach it sister! A—MEN.

  8. anniemcphee says:

    Oh, and just a tidbit – I was looking for a picture of a preemie last night, and found an article about a 21 week fetus that was born and has survived. They then said that there is a big boom in premature babies, and they “think” that it’s because of older mothers and obesity. It was just thrown in there casually, with no link, no study, no backing – just that they attribute more preemies to older moms and obesity. Just like that.

    Fucking weird.

    At the same time, you’d think they’d be happy – because fat babies are the downfall of society, and if fat women are having *low birth weight* babies, that’s supposed to be a good thing. Even though up until like NOW “low-birth-weight” was the absolute bane of babyhood, the greatest single danger since Pharaoh to newborns. Nevermind that though – fat women cause all the problems in the world – they make fat and low-birth-weight babies and really, they shouldn’t be having babies at all.

  9. worthyourweight says:

    ::standing O::

    Thanks for the guilty laughs *and* the kick-ass mythbusting.

    Re: pregnant women, I think it’s scary and telling that pregnant women are now being used in “before” pics in weight loss ads and how much pressure there is to remain as thin as possible during pregnancy and to lose any weight gained pronto after the birth.

  10. BigLiberty says:

    WYW, I’m not one much for ad hominem attacks (being a Sagan fan, I know one can’t fight Baloney with Baloney), but La Wade is as much a troll as MeMe Roth, in my mind. I don’t care if her intentions are ostensibly *good*, she’s taking money from Big Pharma to try to “cure” my ugly fat diseazzzzze. Well, I don’t wanna be cured. Lay off, Ms. Phat Science. And stop pretending you’re objective, anyone with half a brain can see through your shoddy analyses. Really, results between 0% – 20% equal results between 0% – 100%? Grade school math, much? Or is that what they teach you in Lying With Statistics for Obesity Researchers Who Need More Grant Money 101?

    I’ll let you all know, in five years I’m thinking of getting artificial insemination. IVF is expensive, and a lot of clinics discriminate against women with BMI’s over 33 (mine is 35); adoption agencies would discriminate against my UGLY FATZ! and the fact my to-be husband is twice my age. So, yah. But, like Richie says on BigFatBlog, it really unnerves me to think about my children being forced to diet by their public school, shamed, and since I have a history of EDs and perfectionism, possibly developing and ED too…it would be heartbreaking. I don’t know if I want to make any child have to possibly go through that.

    Welcome to modern eugenics: if you look like X, we’re going to force your child to register his/her “risk factors” so we can seize control over their health and “lifestyles” (i.e., behavior), and possibly accuse you of child abuse for “overfeeding” them. Or you could just not have kids, fatty. Your choice.

  11. lawade says:

    My ears were burning! Just to clarify, 1. The “between 0% and 100%” comment was facetious. 2. I’ve never gotten a penny of funding from Big Pharma, nor even applied for any. As you know, some of the labs I’ve worked in have had grants from pharmaceutical companies, but I think Pfizer and Lilly have better things to do than worry about what I say in my blog. Especially since Big Pharma only has two weight loss products on the market and neither one works very well or makes much money. If they did come up with something safe and effective, though, I’m pretty sure nothing I (or for that matter you) blog about would do much to erode public interest in such a product. Oh, any by the way, 3. I’m not actually trying to cure obesity. Just to understand how it works.

  12. Sandy says:

    Hi BL! I haven’t been around here in a while…I apologize. Lots of stuff going on in my life at the moment.

    Anyway, as far as the pregnancy stuff you guys commented on…I don’t pay a lot of attention to it because I am pregnant now and I don’t want to shit scared out of me, though I did read JFS about the genetic testing…it pisses me off to NO FREAKIN END.

    Now, to the breast cancer thing…

    I don’t know how true this is, but I believe it was on JFS as well (or one of the fat blogs since that I how I came to read about it) that the reason fat women are more likely to have breast cancer (if that is even true) is because of bras. Think about it, your lymph system is under your arms and if you are a bigger woman you need a tighter band to help support your boobs (I know I do! Mine are huge). Anyway, the studies that have been done show that bras can restrict the lymph drainage system in your breasts…the tighter the band the more restriction…and the fact that your boobs aren’t allowed to jiggle thereby helping the toxins filter out into your lymph system to be done away with both contribute to toxins building up in your breast tissue…that can cause cancer.

    Of course, this isn’t the reason for ALL cancers…but after I read and thought about it (I never take anything a face value, I always have to think about it first) it made sense to me. They tell you that your bra support should come from your band, not your shoulders and if your band is slipping up around your neck to get a tighter band. Most women who have large breasts are going to be large women. If you have a super tight band to keep your melons in check then you could be restricting you lymph system and building toxins in your breasts.

    I read this quite a few months ago after my breasts have gotten even bigger (didn’t know that was possible!) from being pregnant…I had horrendous headaches and backaches from my bras and was miserable for weeks on end even though I only wore them when we went out of the house.

    Now, I only wear stretchy camis so they don’t swing all over the place but still can jiggle and I have not had ONE headache or backache or anything. NONE. Now, you can believe it or not…that is up to you guys…but with one of my aunt’s battling the breast cancer that came back after a double mastectomy…I think I will take my chances or just not wearing a bra and not looking “fashionable”…especially since the bra as invented by a man so men could look at women’s boobs better.

    For more info on going bra-less go to http://www.brafree.org – you can find the studies done about this there as well.

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