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Abdominal fat not linked to breast cancer - study

Wednesday May 17th, 2017

Losing abdominal fat does not seem to help reduce the risk of breast cancer, researchers have found.

Dr Evelyn Monninkhof and her team at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, looked at levels of several breast cancer risk markers in 243 overweight postmenopausal women.

The women lost 5kg to 6kg (11lbs to 13lbs) over 16 weeks, and their fat distribution was accurately measured with scans. Blood levels of sex hormones, leptin and inflammatory markers before and after losing weight were compared.

The overall reduction in total body fat was linked to beneficial changes in breast cancer risk markers, including sex hormones and leptin. A reduction in abdominal fat specifically was more closely linked with a reduction in inflammatory markers.

Women who exercised showed a significantly greater reduction in subcutaneous fat than those who lost weight but did not exercise.

Full details appeared yesterday evening (16 May) in Endocrine-Related Cancer. The team write: "Postmenopausal women who are overweight or obese and physically inactive have an increased risk of several types of cancer, including postmenopausal breast cancer.

"Intervention studies suggest that body fat is an important mediator in this association as adipose tissue produces sex hormones, markers of inflammation and adipokines associated with an increased cancer risk. Weight loss, may, therefore, be an option for primary prevention."

Dr Monninkhof said: "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.

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."

Monninkhof, E. et al. Association between changes in fat distribution and biomarkers for breast cancer. Endocrine-Related Cancer 16 May 2017

Tags: Cancer | Diet & Food | Europe | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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