Preventing weight gain to prevent breast cancer


Session type:

Mary Pegington1, Michelle Harvie2, Alan Davies1, David French1, Julia Mueller3, Anthony Howell1
1University of Manchester, 2Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 3University of Cambridge



20–30% of breast cancer (BC) in the UK is potentially preventable through modifiable lifestyle risk factors. A key risk factor is adult weight gain which can double risk compared to maintaining weight. Significant weight gain occurs between 18-35 years and has the highest effect on risk amongst women with a family history of BC, many of whom attend NHS Family History Clinics in the UK. Support to prevent weight gain, plus other behavioural factors that impact on BC risk such as physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking are currently not adequately provided by UK Family History Clinics.  We are developing a weight gain prevention app for high risk young women to fill this unmet need and reduce their BC risk.


Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) work amongst high risk young women showed they were interested in joining a healthy lifestyles programme to prevent weight gain and would like this in the form of an app.

Whilst there are many apps on the market that aid weight loss there are currently no apps designed to prevent weight gain therefore nothing that is currently suitable for testing our population. There are many BC prevention apps which only provide static information. None are interactive and grounded in recognised psychological theory; therefore they are unlikely to elicit behaviour change.

Our multi-disciplinary team is developing an app to engage young, high risk women with lifestyle behaviours to prevent weight gain thus reducing their BC risk. We have run successful PPI sessions as part of our ‘co-design’ process to ensure the app is relevant to the target population.


The app is currently in development and will be trialed in a feasibility study before a larger multi-site efficacy study.


Weight gain prevention and engagement with other health behaviours is an unmet need in young women at increased risk of BC.  This project will create a co-developed app that can be used by women in all UK Family History Clinics.

Impact statement

This app will help women adhere to healthy behaviours thereby reducing their future breast cancer risk.