A ‘Healthier 901′ could decrease risk for breast cancer

Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 10:51 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - If you’re overweight, those extra pounds can increase the risk of breast cancer.

And in Memphis, where Black women are already diagnosed at higher rates, losing weight could be a game-changer.

Dr. Melanie Crutchfield Whitten is part of an all-female breast cancer team with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

”A lot of women just feel more comfortable with a woman, and it’s nice we’re able to offer that,” Crutchfield Whitten said.

The team has their work cut out for them. The breast cancer rate in Memphis is...

”It’s very, very, very high. It’s higher than it should be. Higher than other cities,” she said.

Cancer is actually one of the top causes of death in Shelby and DeSoto counties.

And part of the problem is our waistlines

Breast cancer risks increase for women who are obese, and in Memphis that’s one-third of the community.

”The more fat cells we have, the more estrogen is over-produced and that’s what can feed cancer,” Whitten said.

Studies show losing weight can help lower the risk of getting breast cancer.

”Getting to a healthy weight can reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer by up to 20%,” she said.

Methodist Le Bonheur’s Healthier 901 Challenge wants to motivate Memphians to lose weight together.

The goal is losing 1 million pounds over the next three years.

There’s even an app to help you track activity, calories, sign up for challenges with other Memphians or watch workout videos to get you moving.

”My suggestion for people who aren’t used to exercising is to, when they’re watching TV, during the commercials, get up and walk around your couch. If you’re watching a two-hour show, the commercials will be about 30 minutes. So if you just get up and walk around during the commercials, you would get 30 minutes of exercise without even realizing it.”

Dr. Crutchfield Whitten says 30 minutes of exercise every day, combined with eating meals packed with veggies and skipping sweets, can not only reduce the number of new patients her team treats but also improve the quality of life overall in Memphis.

”If we’re able to get to a healthy weight. If we’re able to cut all these toxins out of our bodies then we can be a healthier 901.”

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