Overweight postmenopausal women more at risk of breast cancer
Washington D.C. [USA], May 17 : Postmenopausal women need to care about their overall weight, as a study finds that a reduction in overall body fat, rather than abdominal fat, lowers the risk of breast cancer.
Increased levels of several blood markers include - sex hormones, testosterone and oestrogen, the "fullness hormone", leptin and inflammatory factors, are associated with breast cancer risk.
The results emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and could influence the design of diet and exercise plans for overweight women.
Researchers from the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands analysed 243 overweight, postmenopausal women lost five to six kg of weight over 16 weeks.
Blood levels of sex hormones, leptin and inflammatory markers were compared to levels prior to weight loss. Total and abdominal fat changes were assessed using x-ray and MRI-based scans.
After 16 weeks, a reduction in total body fat was associated with favourable changes in the levels of breast cancer risk markers, including sex hormones and leptin, whilst a reduction in belly fat was more associated with a reduction in inflammatory markers.
Lead researcher Dr Evelyn Monninkhof said that it is known that belly fat increases the risk of several chronic diseases, independently of total body fat, but for reducing sex hormone levels total body fat seems more important.
Dr Monninkhof explained that next step is to find out how belly fat and total body fat can best be conquered, to identify which nutritional or physical activity programmes are optimal for reducing both weight gain and breast cancer risk.