Study: Obesity Increases Breast Cancer Risk, Preventing Weight Gain Key

Postmenopausal women who are overweight — and especially obese — have a greater risk of developing breast cancers, finds a new study that highlights the importance of preventing weight gain, as it also raises questions about whether losing weight necessarily reduces that risk.

The study adds to a consistent body of research showing that overweight and obesity increases women’s risk of postmenopausal breast cancers. It was published yesterday in JAMA Oncology.

AICR estimates that a third of US breast cancers could be prevented if women were at a healthy weight throughout life, were active and did not drink alcohol.

In this study, as other research has seen, the heavier the women, the greater the risk. Women categorized as the most obese were at almost double the risk of the most common type of breast cancer, ER-positive, along with PR-positive tumors. These cancers are fueled by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, respectively.

The study used data from approximately 67,000 women who were all part of the Women’s Health Initiative trials. That study focused on preventing certain cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. When the women entered the study in the mid 1990s they were 50 to 79 years old, and they were weighed. They also answered questions about their lifestyle habits, medical history and other health risk factors. After that, they were weighed annually and had regular mammograms. Continue reading


Study: Carotenoids Lower Risk of Breast Cancer, Recurrence

Having plenty of tomatoes, carrots and other foods high in carotenoids may reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially the most deadly types, suggests a new study that spanned 20 years. The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adds to a growing body of research on carotenoids, diet and breast cancer risk.17539703_s

Carotenoids are a large group of phytochemicals that you can spot in many red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene and lycopene, found in carrots and tomatoes to name a few foods, are a couple of the more well-known carotenoids. They’re also in dark green vegetables, such as kale and spinach.

Previous studies on carotenoids and breast cancer have been mixed. This study builds on research by the same group suggesting that carotenoids affect different types of breast tumors. We wrote about that here.

As in their previous study, the researchers used blood levels of carotenoids to measure intake. Back in 1989-90, they collected blood samples from almost 33,000 women who were part of the Nurses Health Study. Ten years later they collected another sample, with slightly less than half of the women participating again. All the women were regularly answering questionnaires about their health, weight, diet and other factors. Continue reading


What’s Your Nutrition Literacy?

Health literacy is important to taking care of your health, and nutrition literacy is vital to choosing healthy foods for cancer prevention. But it’s not just a matter of reading comprehension, according to the author of a study presented as a poster at our research conference yesterday.

Try these:

1.Gibbs.NLitBCa.AICR-1.docx

2. If calories are equal for one serving of each food, which provides the most healthful nutrients overall?

A. Applesauce with no sugar added

B. an appleGibbs.NLitBCa.AICRNU

C. applesauce with no sugar added is about equal to an apple in nutrition

3.. If you are trying to eat fewer than 500 mg of sodium per meal, how many cups of this food (Nutrition label) can you eat if you eat nothing else at the meal?

A. 1 cup

B. 2 cups

C. 3 cups

D. 4 cups

 

 

 

 

 

Those were three of the questions used by Heather Gibbs, PhD, at the University of Kansas Medical Center. “Literacy is a functional skill, so nutrition literacy is different than health literacy because we’re also looking at what knowledge and skills are needed in order for people to choose a healthy diet,” said Gibbs.

The three arms of her study included a group of 25 survivors who were currently in a weight-loss program; another group of 30 who were not in a program; and 17 women who were at high risk for the disease but not survivors.

Gibbs remembered one participant who read a question about finding a point of information on a Nutrition Facts label. “She read the question out loud perfectly,” Gibbs says. “But she didn’t understand how to find the answer on the label.”

Other skills Gibbs cites are evaluating fresh foods for quality, such as how much meat was marbled with fat or what colors of vegetables indicated. Participants were also asked whether they used the information on the front of labels, where marketing terms like “natural” or “organic” might make them assume a product is healthy for them; or what information they looked for if they were trying to manage their weight.

The hope is to develop a tool to help dietitians use their time educating people about the things they don’t know about or understand, says Gibbs.