Postmenopausal women who were overweight or obese and lost at least 5 percent of their body weight had a measurable reduction in markers of inflammation, according to a new study by the Hutchinson Center’s Dr. Anne McTiernan.
“Both obesity and inflammation have been shown to be related to several types of cancer, and this study shows that if you reduce weight, you can reduce inflammation as well,” McTiernan said.
The study results were published in Cancer Research. Women in the trial who were assigned to a weight loss intervention had a goal of 10 percent weight reduction during the course of one year, which was achieved through a diet intervention with or without aerobic exercise.
“This program was highly achievable and reproducible. We are not talking about drastic weight loss,” McTiernan said.
Dr. Anne McTiernan
The researchers measured levels of several inflammation markers in 439 women. At the end of one year, C-reactive protein was reduced by 36.1 percent in the diet-alone group and by 41.7 percent in the diet and exercise group. Interleukin-6 decreased by 23.1 percent in the diet group and 24.3 percent in the diet and exercise group.
McTiernan and colleagues found greater reductions in these measures among women who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. They also found that exercise alone, without a dietary weight loss component, had little effect on inflammation markers.
“This study adds to the growing understanding we have about the link between obesity and cancer, and it appears we can affect inflammation directly through nonpharmaceutical means,” McTiernan said.