This study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle
discovered that by losing at least 5 percent of their body weight and exercising
while doing it, women significantly reduced markers for cancer. Then below
that story is the one that was posted yesterday that joggers (light jogging)
increased their life span by six years. These are both studies that show
that getting off one's butt and becoming active is more beneficial than
"taking a pill" or otherwise self medicating is much more beneficial
than satisfying our oral demands.
Weight Loss Reduces Cancer Risk in Overweight Women
Overweight or obese
women who lose at least 5 percent of their body
weight may lower their levels of the type of inflammation
linked with cancer,
according to a new study.
The findings show that women who dieted,
exercised and lost weight saw their levels of an inflammation
marker called C-reactive protein drop by 42 percent, and lowered their
levels of another inflammation marker linked to cancer, called interleukin-6, by
23 percent over the course of a year.
"Both obesity and inflammation have
been shown to be related to several types of cancer," said study researcher
Dr. Anne McTiernan,
of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Studies have linked
obesity to an increased risk of cancers of the endometrium, colon, pancreas and
kidney. Development of as many as 25 percent of cancers is likely facilitated by
a sedentary lifestyle and higher-than-normal body weight, McTiernan said.
The decreases in inflammation seen in the
study were larger than anti-inflammatory medications would produce, McTiernan
said. Researchers believe that inflammation damages tissues and organs in the
body — damage that can result in cancer development, or the progression of
existing cancer, she said.
The findings "reinforce the importance of weight control on biomarkers
that not only have strong associations with cancer, but also with other
prevalent chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease," said Wendy
Demark-Wahnefried, of the University of Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Center in
Birmingham, who was not involved in the study.
The study is published today (May 1) in the journal Cancer Research.
and weight loss
The study looked at 439 overweight and
obese post-menopausal women. The women were assigned, for one year, to either a
calorie-restricted diet, exercise,
or both. The goal for each participant was to reduce their body weight by 10
percent. The researchers ran blood tests to measure the women's levels of
Women who dieted, but were not assigned to exercise, saw drops in
inflammation similar to those of the women who dieted and did exercise, the
But exercise alone did not affect inflammation levels — a finding that did
not surprise McTiernan. Previous studies showed that exercise only reduced
inflammation if the person lost a significant amount of weight, she said.
It seems to be that the loss of fat is the critical issue, she said.
Dr. Tim Byers, associate director for Cancer Prevention and Control at the
University of Colorado Cancer Center, agreed. "It’s really not surprising
that body weight and the amount of weight loss determines the changes in these
circulating inflammatory factors," he said.
However, while higher levels of
inflammation are associated with an increased risk for certain cancers, a
cause-and-effect link between increased inflammation and cancer has not yet been
fully established, the researchers noted. According to experts, other
obesity-related factors besides inflammation, such as levels of blood sugar and
sex hormones, can also increase cancer
What women can do to lower their cancer risk
McTiernan said that women who are overweight should first stop gaining
weight, and then increase their physical activity. "At least 150 minutes or
more per week of moderate or vigorous level activity — this is what is in the
national guidelines," she said.
Women need to get a handle on what they are really eating, she said. Using an
online calorie-counter program or old-fashioned food log should do the trick.
"Most women should be taking in less than 2,000 calories per day, unless
you're an athlete."
For weight loss, a realistic goal is losing one to two pounds a week, and to
aim for a 10 percent reduction over a six-month period, McTiernan said.
Large benefits can be expected with even small amounts of weight loss, Byers
said. He advised keeping up with exercise to maintain a normal body weight.
Both Byers and Demark-Wahnefried said the
results of the study are not restricted to postmenopausal women. "The
current data suggest that maintaining a healthy weight over the entire life
course is important, regardless of gender," Demark-Wahnefried said.
Pass it on: Losing weight can lower
levels of harmful inflammation, and could decrease cancer risk.