• Beliefs about weight and breast cancer: An interview study with high risk women following a 12 month weight loss intervention

      Wright, Claire E.; Harvie, Michelle N.; Howell, Anthony; Evans, D. Gareth; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J.; Donnelly, Louise S.; University of Chester ; University Hospital of South Manchester ; University Hospital of South Manchester ; University of Manchester ; University of Chester ; University Hospital of South Manchester (BioMed Central, 2015-01-09)
      Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Lifestyle factors including excess weight contribute to risk of developing the disease. Whilst the exact links between weight and breast cancer are still emerging, it is imperative to explore how women understand these links and if these beliefs impact on successful behaviour change. Overweight/obese premenopausal women (aged 35–45) with a family history of breast cancer (lifetime risk 17–40%) were invited to a semi-structured interview following their participation in a 12 month weight loss intervention aimed at reducing their risk of breast cancer. Interviews were carried out with 9 women who successfully achieved ≥5% weight loss and 11 who were unsuccessful. Data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Three themes were developed from the analysis. The first theme how women construct and understand links between weight and breast cancer risk is composed of two subthemes, the construction of weight and breast cancer risk and making sense of weight and breast cancer risk. The second theme - motivation and adherence to weight loss interventions - explains that breast cancer risk can be a motivating factor for adherence to a weight loss intervention. The final theme, acceptance of personal responsibility for health is composed of two subthemes responsibility for one’s own health and responsibility for family health through making sensible lifestyle choices.Beliefs about weight and breast cancer risk were informed by social networks, media reports and personal experiences of significant others diagnosed with breast cancer. Our study has highlighted common doubts, anxieties and questions and the importance of providing a credible rationale for weight control and weight loss which addresses individual concerns.