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.



Consumption of Cruciferous Vegetables May Have Positive Impact on Breast Cancer Survival

According to the results of a recent study, the consumption of cruciferous vegetables might have a positive impact on survival in breast cancer patients. Cruciferous vegetables are members of the cabbage family; examples include–in addition to cabbage–broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and bok choy.

The Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, a large population-based prospective cohort study of Chinese breast cancer survivors, showed that eating cruciferous vegetables after a diagnosis of breast cancer was associated with improved survival in a population of Chinese women. The results were presented recently at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting.

The researchers found that after adjustment for confounders such as demographics, clinical characteristics, and lifestyle factors, cruciferous vegetable intake during the first 36 months after diagnosis was associated with a reduced risk for total mortality, breast-cancer-specific mortality, and recurrence. Across increasing quartiles of cruciferous vegetable consumption, the risk for total mortality decreased by 27% (to 62%), the risk for breast-cancer-specific mortality decreased by 22% (to 62%), and the risk for recurrence decreased by 21% (to 35%).

However, researchers cautioned that differences in the populations need to be taken into account when trying to extrapolate these results to other settings. Commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables in China include turnip, Chinese cabbage/bok choy, and greens, whereas broccoli and brussels sprouts are the most commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables in the United States and other Western countries. Also, the intake of these vegetables is much higher among Chinese women than that of American women.

The researchers suggest that breast cancer survivors in the United States follow the general nutrition guidelines of eating vegetables daily, and consider increasing their intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, as part of a healthy diet.

Click here to read the study press release.