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9th November 2021

Breaking Down the Stigma of Fat to Save Lives

Wendy Ingman   2017

Associate Professor Wendy Ingman from the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research reviewed five studies showing that if adolescent girls are a bit chubbier during puberty, they go on to have less dense breasts, leading to a reduced risk of breast cancer throughout their entire lives.

In an exciting development, A/Prof Ingman has further studied this theory and now has evidence that increased fat during puberty can, in fact, reduce breast cancer risk!

“As a society, we’ve come so far away from the idea that fat is good. Obviously obesity and excessive fat is bad, but a bit of fat, especially during adolescence, can be a good thing,” A/Prof Ingman said.

“There is so much pressure around body image in magazines and social media that promotes thinness and leads girls to start dieting from a young age which isn’t good because their body is still growing.”

Puberty is a very important time for breast development. Unlike other tissues which mostly develop before birth, breast development happens almost completely during puberty.

A/Prof Ingman and her team hope that once their paper is published, they will be able to work with organisations around positive body image for young girls.

“Our preliminary findings are very exciting – if this works then we can work on creating awareness around this issue and educate young girls,” A/Prof Ingman said.

“The long-term goal would be to work with appropriate organisations around the messaging that young girls get in terms of having a healthy relationship with food and body image.

“If we didn’t have funding from ABCR’s donor community then this research wouldn’t have been possible – we simply wouldn’t have been able to complete it. We’re very grateful for their support.”

We look forward to updating you on the progress of A/Prof Ingman’s research!