PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gail Brown wanted to tip the scales in her favor after battling breast cancer.

“The whole lifestyle changes, not a diet, but a lifestyle,” Gail Brown says.

Brown’s doctor is the lead author of a new study that shows heavier women are more likely to have their cancer come back.

“Patients in this study who were obese had about a 30 percent higher risk of having a recurrence of their breast cancer and 50% higher risk of dying from their breast cancer,” says Dr. Joseph Sparano of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care.

Researchers at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care studied almost five thousand women. They suspect hormones, higher insulin levels and inflammation, which are associated with extra body fat, could play a role in driving cancer growth.

The link is strongest in women who have breast cancer fueled with the estrogen hormone.

 “This is important because a relatively simple dietary intervention and exercise leads to weight reduction which could have a profound impact in reducing the risk of recurrence for thousands of women,” Dr. Sparano says.

At 65 years old, Brown has been cancer free for five years.

“I’m trying to do all of the things that will help me live a happy and healthy life,” Brown says.

Brown has lost 30 pounds and hopes to keep the weight off to keep cancer away.

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