Intentional Weight Loss: A Great Help For Cancer Prevention?

Published:July 11th, 2011

Obesity is one of the best predictors of cancer development. According to an article published by Cancer Research UK, being overweight or obese can increase your chances of having this dreaded, life threatening health problem. In fact, increased weight is the most common cause of cancer next to tobacco smoking.

In the United Kingdom alone, around 19,000 cases of cancer spring from the overweight and obese population each year. In developed countries, scientists estimate that 7 to 15 percent of breast cancer cases are caused by obesity. Another interesting information: Do you know that increasing your weight by 2 to 10 kilos after menopause can increase your chances for breast cancer by 30 percent? “Oh c’mon!” you might say. But there’s more. If you happen to increase your weight by 25 kilos, you are increasing your risk for this breast problem by 45 percent!

How about colon cancer? Does obesity also trigger its occurrence? Yes, according to the Cancer Research UK. In fact, being obese is the biggest risk for colon cancer. It is estimated that 11 to 14 percent of colon cancer cases happens to be in overweight and obese individuals.

Does losing some of your extra weight give you some protection against the development of cancer?

In a study conducted by two researchers from Colorado School of Public Health Aurora, Colorado and published in the July 2011 issue of Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, it was shown that intentional weight loss can significantly reduce a patient’s risk for cancer development. According to this study, with intentional weight loss, biomarkers for cancer formation and inflammation significantly drop within a short period of time. Free estradiol, a culprit for the development of breast cancer in obese women also drop with significant weight reduction.

In another study published by December 2003 issue of the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, it was demonstrated that an intentional weight loss of more than 20 pounds in overweight and obese individuals can significantly decrease their cancer risk to a level comparative to a non-overweight patient. However, unintentional weight loss does not demonstrate this association between cancer risk and weight loss.

Many studies have proven time and time again the importance of maintaining a healthy weight in preventing the occurrence of the most common forms of cancer.

Now, a word of warning: If you happen to get trapped in weight cycling, that is the habit of losing weight and regaining that weight again over a period of time, chances are, you are increasing your chances of having kidney cancer compared to those patients whose weights are stable. What do you think is the implication of this? To prevent cancer effectively and successfully, your weight loss should never be a temporary thing. You have to keep off the pounds for the rest of your life or you will never benefit from the positive effects of weight loss at all. Weight control should never start only after adulthood. Parents should start maintaining their kid’s weight within the healthy range even during childhood and adolescence. The earlier you start your good and healthy habit, the better your chances in preventing cancer formation.


Cancer Research UK: Body weight and cancer: the evidence

Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism; Does intentional weight loss reduce cancer risk?; Byers, T. and Sedjo, R.L.; July 2011

International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders; Intentional weight loss and incidence of obesity-related cancers: the Iowa Women’s Health Study; Parker E.D. and Folsom A.R.; December 2003



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