Weight Loss May Reduce Cancer Risk

Results from a new study published online today in Cancer Research suggest that moderate weight loss in postmenopausal women reduces biomarkers of inflammation that have been tied to certain cancers. The study results have potential significance for cancer prevention.

The findings showed that older women who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight through diet alone or diet plus exercise had significant reductions in key inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. Elevated levels of these biomarkers are associated not only with increased risk for heart disease but also increased risk for several cancers, including breast, colon, lung and endometrial cancer.

In the study, women were randomized to either a calorie-restricted diet arm, a moderate-to vigorous-aerobic exercise arm, or a diet plus exercise arm. The results showed that C-reactive protein levels went down by about 36 percent in the diet-alone group and by 42 percent in the diet and exercise group. Interleukin-6 levels decreased by about 23 percent in the diet group and 24 percent in the diet and exercise group, the study showed. There were greater reductions in these levels seen among women who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. Exercise alone did not affect levels of inflammation markers.

Approximately 25% of cancers are due to overweight or obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, risk factors that are particularly common in older women.  Researchers hypothesize that inflammation resulting from being overweight is related to the increased risk for developing cancer.

The authors state, “this study found that a 12-month caloric restriction weight loss diet intervention, with or without exercise, produced large, significant reductions in several biomarkers of inflammation…These results suggest that modest amounts of weight loss can have large beneficial effects on clinically relevant inflammatory biomarkers, which could impact risk reduction of several cancers in overweight or obese, postmenopausal women.”

Click here to read the published article.



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