Health researchers have known for quite some time that women who pack on extra pounds are putting themselves at higher risk for certain types of cancer.
Researchers have also long believed that inflammation is associated with the development of cancer, and those extra pounds are often responsible for triggering inflammation in the body.
Now a groundbreaking study has now shown postmenopausal women who are overweight or obese but lost at least 5 percent of their body weight could measurably lower markers of inflammation, thus lowering their risk for future cancer.
To see if women could change inflammation biomarkers without drugs by simply changing their lifestyles, Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, led the Nutrition and Exercise Study for Women (NEW), a four-year randomized controlled trial study.
For the NEW study, Dr. McTiernan and colleagues assigned 439 women to a weight loss intervention with the goal of losing 10 percent of their body weight over one year with diet alone, combining diet with aerobic exercise, or exercise without diet modifications.
The researchers measured participants’ inflammation biomarker levels throughout the study. Biomarkers are distinct substances in the body that indicate if certain health conditions are present.
McTiernan and colleagues found women in the diet and exercise group who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight benefited the most, but even those in the diet only group who lost weight saw measurable benefits. However women in the exercise-only group saw little effect on their inflammation biomarker levels.
Possibly as much as one-quarter of all cancers are due to excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle, the study said.
Packing on too much weight is linked to esophageal cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, endometrial (lining of the uterus) cancer, as well as colorectal cancer, kidney, pancreatic, thyroid, gallbladder, and possibly other cancer types, according to the National Cancer Institute.