Shedding weight may help women over 50 reverse their risks of breast cancer: study
Exercise and a healthy diet can come to the rescue of women who want to avoid breast cancer. Shedding weight after crossing the age of 50 may lower women's chances of developing breast cancer, suggests a new study.
"Our results suggest that even a modest amount of sustained weight loss is associated with lower breast cancer risk for women over 50," says Dr Lauren Teras, the lead author of the study.
In the US, more than two in three adult women are overweight or obese. These women are more prone to developing breast cancer because fat produces a hormone called estrogen, which, in turn, drives the growth of tumors, say scientists.
“These hormones, especially estrogen, can promote the development of postmenopausal breast cancer. Losing weight decreases the levels of circulating hormones.” Dr. Daniel Schauer of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, told Reuters.
Hence, researchers wanted to determine if losing excess weight could reverse this risk of breast cancer. To that end, the analysis included more than 180,000 women aged 50 and older. The team tracked changes in weight three times over a period of 10 years: at the beginning of the study; after about five years; then again about four years after that.
The results showed that women who lost 2 to 4.5 kg, 4.5 to 9 kg and 9kg or more, had a 13%, 16% and 26% lower risk, than women who maintained the same body weight. These positive health effects remained even after women regained weight after losing 9 kg or more.These health benefits correspond to the amount of weight and lost and is specific to women who were not on postmenopausal hormones: female hormones that are used to replenish the body's hormone reserves after menopause.
"These findings may be a strong motivator for the two-thirds of American women who are overweight to lose some of that weight. Even if you gain weight after age 50, it is not too late to lower your risk of breast cancer," says Dr Teras.
The study has been published in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute.