A study in Seattle shows that postmenopausal women who lose weight may lower their cancer risk because the weight loss reduces the body’s inflammation.
“Both obesity and inflammation have been shown to be related to several types of cancer, and this study shows that if you reduce weight, you can reduce inflammation as well,” says Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
The research showed that women who were overweight or obese and lost at least 5 percent of their body weight (through diet alone or with a diet combined with exercise) had a measurable reduction in markers of inflammation.
At the end of a year, C-reactive protein in the blood (a marker of inflammation) was reduced by 36.1 percent by dieting to lose weight and by 41.7 percent in women who both dieted and exercised. Interleukin-6 decreased by 23.1 percent in the diet group and 24.3 percent in the diet and exercise group. Interleukin-6 is also a marker for inflammation.
The research revealed that exercise alone, without a dietary weight loss component, had little effect on inflammation markers.
“This study adds to the growing understanding we have about the link between obesity and cancer, and it appears we can affect inflammation directly through nonpharmaceutical means,” said McTiernan.