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February 22, 2017 | 2 minute read

Intentionally Shedding Extra Pounds Lowers Risk of Endometrial Cancer

There is clear research showing excess body fat increases endometrial cancer risk. Now a study suggests that overweight women who are successful in working to lose weight, even just 5 percent of their weight, will lower their risk of this cancer. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

This is one of the few studies on weight loss and endometrial cancer risk, adding to the evidence that intentional weight loss can play a role in lowering risk for obesity-related cancers, even later in life.

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer and the fourth most common cancer among women in the United States.

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This study included almost 37,000 women from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, which enrolled postmenopausal women ages 50-79. Researchers measured the women’s weight when they entered study, and then again three years later. The women who lost weight were asked at this time whether their weight loss was voluntary or involuntary.

After tracking the women for an average of 11 years, the study found that overall, women who intentionally lost weight had a significant decrease in risk of endometrial cancer compared to women whose weight remained stable.

Among women who lost 5 percent or more of their body weight, endometrial cancer risk was 29 percent lower, regardless of their age. The greatest reduction of endometrial cancer risk was found among women who were obese and intentionally lost weight. When compared to women who stayed the same weight, women who were obese and intentionally lost 5 percent or more of their body weight had a 56 percent reduction in their risk.

And the women who were overweight or obese and lost weight to achieve a normal BMI at the three-year mark had the same risk as women who has maintained a stable, healthy BMI.

Gaining weight was seen to increase risk. Women who gained more than 10 pounds during the course of the study had a 26 percent higher risk of endometrial cancer compared to women who remained at the same weight.

The study cites funding from The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) program, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services.

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