A recent study suggests that weight loss helps to lower
the risks of breast cancer in overweight menopausal women.
Losing weight, particularly through exercise and diet, helps
overweight women to bring down the levels of certain hormones found in their
blood that are capable of increasing their breast cancer risks.
In the new
study, researchers attempted to understand how the potentially dangerous levels of body hormones could be affected by
weight loss achieved through exercise and diet.
439 overweight to obese
menopausal women, between the ages of 50 and 75 (average age 58) formed the subjects
of the study. The investigators randomly assigned the participants to one of
the four groups.
One group did aerobic exercise for 45 minutes every day, another
group followed a low calorie diet that included fruits, vegetables and high
fiber food, the third group exercised (mostly walked) and also followed the
diet and the fourth group did neither. The last group was offered four
weight-loss classes and eight weeks of physical exercise training, once the
study was completed.
Hormone levels were directly
used to measure breast cancer risks. The experts noted that the amount of
weight lost directly impacted the change in hormone levels.
After one year, dieters on an average lost 10.8% of their body
weight and those who exercised along with a diet lost about 11.9%. While those who only exercised and those in
the control group gained weight.
The researchers noted an
increase of 25.8% in sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which protects
against breast cancer by controlling the levels of circulating estrogen, in
women who were on a diet and exercised while the elevation in SHBG levels was
22.4% in those who were on diet without exercise. There was also a reduction in
fasting insulin levels and inflammation measurements in the diet-and-exercise
group. In other groups, the changes were much smaller.
been observed that the link between
weight loss and the reduction in breast cancer risk applies only to post
menopausal women. During menopause, the ovaries cease to function and the
fat tissues begin to behave like an endocrine organ and begin to produce
are obese are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer, and, estrogen has
been identified as the culprit in several types of common breast cancers.
Losing as little as 5% of one's body weight can reduce risks by 22%. Weight
loss along with regular exercise can greatly help to minimize breast cancer
The study does not conclude that weight loss lowers the risk of
breast cancer but it certainly indicates that weight loss reduces the levels of
circulating estrogens, which are capable of increasing breast cancer risks in
Study co-author Dr. Anne McTiernan, director of the
Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said, "The
findings don't prove that losing weight this way will prevent breast cancer.
Weight loss represents an additional option for long-term breast cancer risk
reduction without significant or bothersome side effects."
Breast cancer risk factors include obesity, alcohol consumption,
not breast feeding babies and hormone-replacement therapy. Obesity is a risk
factor that women can do something about.
It is never too late to change your lifestyle, especially if the
changes are lifesaving!
Journal of Clinical
Oncology, May 21:2012