Entries in Postmenopausal (4)


Moderate Weight Loss Can Decrease Breast Cancer Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Could moderate weight loss lower your chance of developing breast cancer? Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center think it's possible.

The connection between obesity and breast cancer risk in women after menopause has long been suspected. Specifically, weight gain from early adulthood into the 60s has been consistently associated with risk of breast cancer after menopause. Cancer researchers believe the reason for this is that fat tissue becomes a major source of estrogen in postmenopausal women, and this estrogen causes certain types of tumors in the breast to grow. Because obese women have more fat tissue, they make more estrogen when compared with women who are thin.

Now, this new study shows for the first time that weight loss directly lowers hormones linked to breast cancer.

Dr. Anne McTiernan, director of the Prevention Center at Fred Hutchinson in Seattle, Wash., and author of the study, said that postmenopausal women who reduce their weight moderately through diet and exercise can lower the amount of these hormones circulating through their bodies, which can in turn decrease their risk of developing breast cancer.

Up to 75 percent of postmenopausal women with breast cancer have the estrogen receptor positive variety, meaning that these cancer cells will grow when estrogen is present. McTiernan estimated that reducing these estrogen levels through weight loss can lower a woman's chance of estrogen sensitive breast cancer by as much as 50 percent.

"Twenty-five to 50 percent breast cancer reduction is estimated based on how much we know estrogen can affect breast cancer risk," she said. "There were nine studies who had been done that showed women with the highest estrogen/testosterone levels had at least a two times increased risk of breast cancer. We estimated that we could see that reduction based on these studies."

Importantly, the study found that even modest weight loss can lower breast cancer risk.

"One main point is that women don't have to be like the 'Biggest Loser,'" McTiernan said. "A lot of people are thinking for general health benefits that they have to lose 50 pounds if they are 200 pounds. That's not what we are seeing.

"Having a first goal of 10 percent of weight lost can have major health effects; it's not as difficult as people are thinking it is."

One of the world's leading epidemiologists, Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University said the findings were supported by past research.

"From many studies, we know that lower levels [of sex hormones] reduce risk of breast cancer," Willett said. "We have seen that levels of estrogens are about three times higher in obese compared to lean women."

"Weight loss by postmenopausal women is one of the best ways to reduce risk of breast cancer."

Willett also mentions a study showing that women who lost a moderate amount of weight had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer.

"And best of all are the side effects: lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other forms of cancer," he said.

While other experts agree weight loss is important they note that there is limited evidence to support these findings.

There is "no direct evidence for this at present," said Dr. Clifford A. Hudis of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

But, he said, "There is no argument in favor of obesity. Protection from breast cancer is simply one more good reason to be thin, whether it actually prevents breast (or other) cancers needs to be confirmed."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Calcium: How Much Do Women Really Need?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(UPPSALA, Sweden) -- The U.S. government currently recommends that post-menopausal women need a calcium intake of at least 1,200mg per day.  Calcium supplementation is recommended primarily to reduce the risk of bone fractures, particularly in post-menopausal women.  But how much is needed to achieve this goal?
For the study, published in the British Medical Journal, researchers followed more than 61,000 women in Sweden for almost 20 years and found that those who took less than about 700mg of calcium per day, through diet or supplements, had a higher risk of fractures than women who took larger quantities.  But, taking more than 750 mg/day didn’t seem to provide additional benefit since fracture risk did not decrease with higher calcium intakes.  Therefore, the authors conclude that taking more than 750mg/day of calcium for prevention of bone fractures is unnecessary.
Many experts think that the U.S. guidelines are reasonable, and add that for many women the problem isn’t too much calcium…it’s the opposite.

But one expert, Dr. Nanette Santoro from University of Colorado School of Medicine, told ABC News that taking too much calcium isn’t without risk.

“Within the past year we have learned that calcium supplements….are associated with a slight increase in cardiovascular disease risk.”  She adds, however, that “the average American woman's diet contains about 600mg [of calcium] if she is not paying any attention, so practically speaking, if you throw in a yogurt and one more calcium-rich food item (low or non-fat of course!), you are probably fine.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Anemia in Postmenopausal Women Associated with Inadequate Diet 

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- When your blood lacks an adequate supply of healthy red blood cells  to carry oxygen to organs of the body, you may have a condition called anemia. There are hundreds of types of anemia, affecting millions of Americans.  

A new study looked at anemia among one group of women to see if there is a link between the condition and nutrition. Researchers with the University of Arizona analyzed data from more than 90,000 post-menopausal women who took part in a Women's Health Initiative study. They found that the women ran a 21 percent greater risk of persistent anemia if they didn't get enough of two of the following: Iron, Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, or the nutrients from red meat. Those deficient in at least three of those nutrients were 44 percent more likely to develop anemia than women with no nutritional deficiencies.  

The authors point out that inadequate nutrition is a problem that can be solved by eating a better diet, but the study stopped short of saying a better diet actually reduces the risk of anemia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


HRT Linked to High Cancer Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -– Mounting evidence suggests that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women may be linked to aggressive forms of breast cancer, according to results from an ongoing Women’s Health Initiative study.
The study shows that women who take a combination of estrogen and progestin therapy may even be at a higher risk of death from the disease.

Part of the ongoing study refers to women who have not had a hysterectomy and therefore are on a combination of estrogen and progestin (Prempro) and women with hysterectomies who were taking estrogen only in the form of Premarin.
Women taking estrogen only after their hysterectomy were not at an increased risk. This finding leads many physicians to suspect that it is primarily the daily use of the synthetic progestin in the Prempro combination that contributed to the breast cancer risk.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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