Overweight or obese women who lost weight through diet or a combination of diet and exercise also significantly lowered levels of proteins in the blood that help certain tumors grow, according to a new study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The study, a randomized controlled trial, measured three proteins known to enhance tumor-related angiogenesis – the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors and enable them to grow. The researchers wanted see how these cancer-promoting proteins changed when overweight, sedentary, postmenopausal women lost weight through diet or diet and exercise over the course of a year.
The 439 otherwise healthy women as assigned to one of four groups: 1) calorie- and fat-restricted diet, 2) aerobic exercise five days a week, 3) combined diet and exercise, or 4) no intervention (control group).
The researchers found that women in the diet group and the diet + exercise group lost more weight and had significantly lower levels of angiogenesis-related proteins, compared with women in the exercise-only group and the control group.
It is known that being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle are associated with increased risk for developing certain cancers, but the reasons for this relationship are not clear.
These findings indicate that weight loss may be a safe and effective way to improve the "angiogenic profile" of healthy individuals, meaning they would have lower blood levels of cancer-promoting proteins. Although the researchers cannot say for certain that this would impact the growth of tumors, they believe there could be an association between reduced protein levels and a less favorable environment for tumor growth.
Source: Cancer Research, July 2016.
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