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Risk of endometrial cancer decreases intentional weight loss
Losing weight is associated with a significantly lower risk of endometrial cancer, and that benefit appears to be greatest in obese women, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The researchers reviewed data from 36,794 American women between the ages of 50 and 79. The study included an average of more than ten years of follow-up.
Although obesity is an established endometrial cancer risk factor, information about the influence of weight loss on endometrial cancer risk in postmenopausal women is limited. Therefore, the evaluated associations among weight change by intentionality with endometrial cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) observational study.
Postmenopausal women (n=36,794) ages 50 to 79 years at WHI enrolment had their body weights measured and body mass indices calculated at baseline and at year three. Weight change during that period was categorized as follows: stable (change within ± 5%), loss (change ≥ 5%), and gain (change ≥ 5%).
Weight loss intentionality was assessed via self-report at year three; change was characterised as intentional or unintentional. During the subsequent 11.4 years (mean) of follow-up, 566 incident endometrial cancer occurrences were confirmed by medical record review.
The results of the study, ‘Intentional Weight Loss and Endometrial Cancer Risk’, found that women over 50 who lost 5 percent or more of their body weight had a 29 percent lower risk of endometrial cancer, regardless of their age or how much weight they lost, according to the researchers. In addition, obese women who lost 5 percent or more of their body weight had a 56 percent reduction in their risk.
Overweight or obese women who achieved a normal BMI had the same risk as women who maintained a normal BMI. The researchers also found that women who gained more than 10 pounds had a 26 percent increased risk of endometrial cancer.
"Many older adults think it's too late to benefit from weight loss, or think that because they are overweight or obese, the damage has already been done. But our findings show that's not true," said study author, Dr Juhua Luo, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public Health. "It's never too late, and even moderate weight loss can make a big difference when it comes to cancer risk."
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