Exercise for weight loss may lower inflammation, breast cancer risk

For postmenopausal women who are overweight, it makes sense that losing weight could reduce their risk of breast cancer because being overweight or obese increases the risk. But when overweight women are working to shed pounds, is it primarily exercise or cutting calories that makes more of a difference in lowering the risk?canstockphoto16118782

Both, suggests a new study, with weight loss fueled primarily by exercise possibly leading to even more benefits – at least in the short-term for certain markers of breast cancer.

The study is one of the few randomized controlled trials that focuses on teasing apart the effect of diet versus exercise on breast cancer risk. It was published this week in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Previous research has shown that too much fat tissue can place the body in a constant state of inflammation. That leads to high levels of hormones and other proteins that can spur cancer cell growth. How exercise alone can affect inflammation and hormones is one of the big questions under study. Continue reading

Carotenoid Foods May Protect Against Certain Breast Cancers

Looking for another reason to add carrots to your lunch or collard greens to dinner? Well, these are great sources of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, types of carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables, And a new study suggests that women with higher blood concentrations of these carotenoids are at decreased risk of the type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor (ER) negative.

ER negative breast cancers do not have receptors for the hormone estrogen. These tumors are less common and often more difficult to treat than the more common ER-positive tumors that typically respond to estrogen.

Carotenoids in foodRecent studies, like this one, have linked carotenoids to decreased breast cancer risk.

The new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition included 1,502 women with breast cancer and 1,502 healthy controls from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) group.

Researchers chose to focus primarily on pre-menopausal and ER negative cancers because their review of the literature suggested that dietary carotenoids and fruit/ vegetable intake are more strongly related to these types of tumors.

Researchers compared prediagnostic blood levels of 6 carotenoids, including β-carotene and α-carotene as well as retinol, α-tocopherol, ϒ-tocopherol, and vitamin C for both groups. They took into account weight as well as other known risk factors for breast cancer.

Risk of ER negative breast cancer was 59 percent and 39 percent lower in women who had the highest blood concentrations of β-carotene and α-carotene respectively, compared to those who had the lowest levels. ER positive breast cancer risk was not associated with carotenoids or other nutrients.

Carotenoids are a large group of phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. You can usually recognize them by the orange, red, and yellow colors they give to foods. Many green leafy vegetables are also great sources.

These results may be another reason to consume more foods with beta carotene and alpha carotene. Supplements are not associated with the same decreased risk. And β-carotene in high-dose supplements, especially in smokers, seems to increase lung cancer risk and mortality.

The authors note that other factors including genetics and lifestyle can affect plasma carotenoid levels and may have affected the study results.

This study, and others, will be included in AICR/WCRF’s upcoming continuous update project report on breast cancer prevention. AICR’s previous review of the literature did not find a convincing link between foods containing carotenoids and breast cancer risk. Fruits and vegetables containing carotenoids are part of a cancer-preventive diet. AICR estimates that one-third of US breast cancers can could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and avoiding alcohol.

This study was supported by: Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fond; Europe Against Cancer Program of the European Commission; Deutsche Krebshilfe, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum; German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Danish Cancer Society; Health Research Fund of the Spanish Ministry of Health, Spanish Regional Governments of Andalucia, Asturia, Basque Country, Murcia (No. 6236), and Navarra; Catalan Institute of Oncology, Red de Centros RCESP, C03/09, Spain; Cancer Research UK; Medical Research Council, United Kingdom; Stroke Association, United Kingdom; British Heart Foundation; Department of Health, United Kingdom; Food Standards Agency, United Kingdom; Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom; Helenic Health Foundation; Italian Association for Research on Cancer; Italian National Research Council, Fondazione-Istituto Banco, Napoli, Italy; Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports; Dutch Prev ention Funds; LK Research Funds; Dutch ZON (Zorg Onderzoek Nederland); World Cancer Research Fund; Swedish Cancer Society; Swedish Scientific Council; Regional Government of Skane, Sweden; European Research Council; French League against Cancer; National Institute for Health and Medical Research, France; Mutuelle Généralede; Education Nationale, France; 3M Co, France; Gustave Roussy Institute, France; and General Councils of France.

Heart Healthy Mediterranean Diet May Cut Breast Cancer Risk

canstockphoto13663884For years, we’ve heard a lot about the heart health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Now an analysis from a randomized trial suggests this diet, supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts, may help lower risk of breast cancer.

The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is from the PREDIMED trial – a 6 year study that includes data from over 4000 women, 60-80 years old and at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The women had been assigned to follow one of three diets, a Mediterranean diet where they received extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with provided mixed nuts, or they were advised to follow a low fat diet. The women had quarterly sessions with a dietitian to assess how well they were following the diet.

At the end of the study, the women following the Mediterranean diet with olive oil showed a 62% lower risk of malignant breast cancer than the control, low fat diet group. When researchers put the olive oil and nuts groups together, there was a 51% relative risk reduction compared to the control group. Continue reading