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Lower your risk of breast cancer by reducing your overall body fat

by , 09 June 2017
Lower your risk of breast cancer by reducing your overall body fat
All along you've been told that a reduction in belly fat is associated with lower levels of breast cancer markers. But a new study published in the journal Endocrine-Related Cancer has found that it's actually a reduction in overall body fat that's associated with lower risk of breast cancer!

Researchers behind this study say the results highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and could influence the design of diet and exercise plans for overweight women. Here's the full scoop...

Body fat is a known risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer...

While it’s been long known that body fat is a risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer, whether or not belly fat poses an increased risk has been unclear. In recent years, researchers have linked belly fat to increased risk of several chronic conditions, including heart disease, colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes.
 
Increased levels of sex hormones, oestrogen, testosterone and several other blood markers are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Some studies suggest that these markers are mainly produced in fat localised in the belly, while other work shows that weight loss is linked to changes in blood levels of breast cancer markers.
 
These findings combined suggest that body fat plays has a major impact on breast cancer markers.

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New study suggests losing body fat can reduce breast cancer risk

In this new study, carried out by researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, 243 overweight, postmenopausal women lost 5.6 kg over 16 weeks. The researchers took their blood levels of sex hormones, inflammatory markers and leptins before and after their weight loss. They also assessed their total and abdominal fat changes using x-ray and MRI-based scans.
 
After 16 weeks, a reduction in total body fat was tied to significant changes in the levels of breast cancer risk markers, including sex hormones and leptin. On the other hand, a reduction in belly fat was associated with a reduction in inflammatory markers.
 
“It’s 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,” said lead study author, Dr Evelyn Monninkhof.
 
Although past research has found conflicting links between belly fat and breast cancer risk, this study used a far more accurate scanning-based method of determining fat distribution rather than waist circumference. “We obtained two measurements of both fat depots and biomarkers over time; and we used more accurate DEXA measurements for total body fat, as well as MRI for belly fat,” Dr Monninkhof said.
 
“Our 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,” Dr Monninkhof concluded.

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