Does losing weight prevent cancer?

SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – For years, we’ve heard about the importance of diet and exercise when it comes to improving and maintaining overall health. Now researchers in Seattle say diet and exercise can help to reduce the proteins in the blood that can increase your cancer risk.

Seventy-seven-year-old Luanne Isom Mills loves working out, but that wasn't always the case. Mills not only got fit as a senior, she racked up an impressive three indoor rowing world records and 13 world championships. Mills said she got her start by participating in a study of diet and exercise and cancer prevention.

“It changed my self-perception and I think it did for a lot of people in the studies,” Mills told Ivanhoe.

The study at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on post-menopausal women found a surprising decrease in angiogenesis markers, proteins in the blood that can promote cancer.

Anne McTiernan, M.D., PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, detailed, “We saw a significant reduction. We were surprised at how much of a reduction and the significance of it in these markers. Between ten and 20 percent reduction.”

Some of the women in the study worked out 45 minutes a day, five days a week. Others ate a low-fat diet to lose around ten percent of their weight over a one year period. Researchers say there are drugs to reduce those protein levels, but they were surprised diet and exercise had such a significant effect.

Dr. McTiernan said, “This was very interesting because no one had looked at this before. So this was really a novel research project and a novel finding.”

Dr. McTiernan said it would be especially important to have the diet and exercise study done with patients who currently have cancer to see if they also experience the same decrease in proteins.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Nicole Sanchez, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.