Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 5 Issue 301 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 28-Oct-2003 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 29-Oct-2003
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The effects of weight loss and weight gain on biomarkers of breast cancer risk

Pre-menopausal weight gain is associated with an increased risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, according to researchers from Manchester, England, who examined a weight-loss program to identify the link between weight loss and risk of developing cancer. Results showed that even a small weight loss, just five percent of an individual's body weight, may lower the risk of developing breast cancer. In the trial, 79 women with a family history of breast cancer who had gained significant amounts of weight as adults were divided into two different diet regimens: a calorie-restricted/exercise, weight-loss program; and a standard diet with only exercise advice.

Changes were measured by body weight, waist circumference, percent body fat, total subcutaneous and intrabdominal fat, insulin, testosterone and SHGB (sex hormone binding globulin), which impacts levels of bioavailable estrogen. The effects of losing more than five percent, or between zero and five percent of body weight, were examined. Only women losing more than five percent of their body weight experienced notable declines in waist circumference; percent body fat; total, subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat; testosterone and insulin levels; and increases in SHBG.

Biomarkers for breast cancer risk pointed to positive benefits from a weight loss of five percent when compared to the standard trend of weight gain among overweight women with a family history of breast cancer.

"Until now, the general perception suggested that weight loss had to be significant in order to make a difference in disease prevention," said Michelle Harvie, Ph.D., of the South Manchester University Hospitals in Manchester and lead author of the study. "We hope this study will prove to women that a small effort can go a long way."

Researchers are currently examining the effects of this weight loss intervention over a 12-month period, in order to determine the potential long-term benefits.

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