Can Weight Loss Really Reduce Your Risk of Uterine Cancer?
By Megan Flemmit
A new study seems to think so.
Weight loss means different things to different people. For some, weight loss means an increase in their self-esteem, while for others, it’s a step towards living a healthy life. A recent American study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that post-menopausal women who intentionally lost weight could reduce their risk of developing endometrial cancer.
What is Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer occurs when abnormal or malignant cells form in the lining of your uterus (endometrium). It most commonly occurs in women after menopause.
While endometrial cancer is the sixth most common cancer affecting women worldwide, it is one of the four most common cancers affecting women in South Africa.
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Researchers from Indiana observed more than 35 000 women aged between 50-79. Participants were weighed at the beginning of the study and then again three years later to determine the change in body weight. Women who lost weight were asked if their weight loss was intentional or unintentional. Researchers then observed the participants for more than ten years.
Women, who were aged 50 and older, who lost more than 5% of their body weight, were noted to have a 29% lower risk of developing endometrial cancer. The biggest reduction of endometrial cancer risk was seen among the group of women who intentionally lost weight. Their risk of developing this disease was reduced by 56%. Researchers discovered that women who gained weight had a 26% higher risk of endometrial cancer.
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“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 School of Public Health in Bloomington, Indiana. “It’s never too late, and even moderate weight loss can make a big difference when it comes to cancer risk.”
Other Risk Factors:
Obesity is not the only factor that increases your likelihood of developing this disease. Some other risk factors include:
- Oestrogen replacement therapy without the use of progestrone
- History of endometrial polyps
- Infrequent periods
- Tamoxifen, a drug for breast cancer treatment
- Never being pregnant
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Starting menstruation at an early age (before age 12)
- Starting menopause after age 50
If you experience any abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge not related to your period or severe pelvic pain or pressure, it might be a good idea to have it checked out.
Want to know more about dealing with cancer? Read this woman’s account of how she survived breast cancer.