I have already made up my mind that after the holidays, I am dieting. Of course, I’ve said that on and off now for the last two years, but next June, I turn 50 and I know it will just get harder and harder to lose weight.
Today, I read another incentive to help me take the pounds off. A recent study by Dr. Paul S. MacLean, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, and colleagues hints to the fact that perimenopausal women may be able to lessen their chances of getting breast cancer by losing weight.
The study, published in Cancer Research, used rats rather than human subjects. Of course, rats don’t go into menopause, so MacLean and colleagues mimicked it by performing a surgical ovariectomy on them then compared overweight rats to leaner rats. The extra weight seemed to promote breast tumor growth in the heavier rats.
The researchers did notice that the fat rats failed to store glucose and dietary fat in the liver, fat, muscle, and health breast tissue as the leaner rats did. They also found that the tumors in the two different sets of rats had different molecular profiles, with the fat rats having tumors with a higher rate of progesterone receptor. Doctors have seen the same high levels of progesterone receptors in tumors of postmenopausal women with breast tumors.
“Obese postmenopausal women have increased risk for breast cancer and poorer clinical outcomes compared with postmenopausal women who are lean,” said Dr. MacLean. Women often gain weight during menopause because they are eating more than their bodies actually need.
MacLean went on to say that as they continue to test, if they discover their findings do indeed translate to humans, a woman’s perimenopausal period is an important time for losing weight in hopes of preventing breast cancer during her postmenopausal years.