It's no secret that losing weight can help improve health concerns like lowering your risk of a heart attack, improving metabolism, lowering blood pressure, and much more. But scientists say becoming healthier, eating nutritious foods, and exercising can also help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
In fact, losing weight can help reduce the risk of obesity-related cancer, according to a study published recently in the journal Obesity. These cancers can include kidney, colon, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, breast, thyroid, and more, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The study looked at 4,859 adults between the ages of 45 and 76 who had never had cancer before. It followed their weight loss over 11 years. One of two weight loss plans was randomly assigned to each study participant.
One plan, called intensive lifestyle intervention (or ILI), reduced the number of daily calories for the participant. It also added in meal replacement products and increased their exercise to around 175 minutes a week. The other plan is called Diabetes Support and Education (DSE). It featured three support group meetings about diet, exercise, and encouragement a year for three years. Meetings were then once per year after that.
After the 11 year follow-up, researchers found that about 14% of participants — exactly 684 — had been diagnosed with cancer. Fewer people who followed the ILI weight loss plan were diagnosed compared to those who followed the DSE plan. Those who followed the ILI plan saw their chances of being diagnosed with obesity-related cancer fall by 16%.
"Healthcare providers should be encouraged to provide such counseling or refer patients with obesity to intervention programs that help people manage their weight. Moreover, establishing an environment with easier access to healthy food and physical activities is the foundation of obesity and cancer prevention," says Hsin-Chieh "Jessica" Yeh, PhD, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University and the corresponding author of the study.