BALTIMORE, Md. — Losing weight can slash your risk of cancer, a new study reveals. Researchers say shedding extra pounds reduces the incidence of developing growths in the colon, which could lead to tumors.
The emerging research suggests that obese people who lose weight may reduce their chances of later developing colorectal adenoma. This is an unpleasant type of benign polyp in the colon or rectum that can turn cancerous.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States.
Doctors commonly recommend weight loss for overweight and obese people, and although doing so has its obvious benefits, the question of whether weight loss can reduce the chance of developing colorectal adenoma has remained unanswered until now.
In this study, the research team used data from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial to assess weight gain and loss over three periods of adulthood, in relation to the development of colorectal adenoma.
The Screening Trial enrolled 154,942 people between 55 and 74 years-old living in the U.S. The program then tracked their health from 1993 to 2001, to evaluate the effectiveness of different screening approaches in preventing death from a pool of different cancers.
Weight loss cuts colorectal cancer risk in half
This particular study used the data from participants in the screening arm of the trial who received a colorectal cancer screening test at baselines, and then again three or five years later.
The investigators found that, in comparison to people with a “stable” weight, the weight loss that occurred in adulthood displayed a connection to a 46-percent reduced risk for colorectal adenoma.
This statistic was particularly true among the participants who were initially overweight or obese.
The study also found that weight gain in adulthood increases the chance of adenoma – particularly for a weight gain of greater than 6.6 pounds over a period of five years. Interestingly, the findings for weight loss and gain appeared stronger among men than they did for women.
“Our findings suggest that avoiding weight gain in adulthood may help lower someone’s chance of developing a pre-cancerous growth called a colorectal adenoma, which may, in turn, reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer,” says the study’s senior author Dr. Kathryn Hughes Barry from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in a statement to SWNS.
“Based on our findings, we would not recommend weight loss for all adults. But the results suggest that overweight and obese adults may benefit from weight loss.”
The report is published by Oxford University Press in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum.
South West News Service writer Georgia Lambert contributed to this report.