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Another excellent reason to lose weight if you are overweight or obese: losing weight (through diet or through combined diet and exercise) significantly lowers levels of proteins in the blood that help cancerous tumors grow. In other words, reducing weight could turn out to be a cancer prevention method in overweight and obese persons. Exercise alone did not lower the levels of these cancer-associated proteins.

The study enrolled 439 overweight or obese women (aged 50 to 75 years old) from the Seattle area who were randomly placed into one of four groups for 12 months: exercise only, diet only, exercise plus diet, or no change to health habits. Researchers measured three proteins in blood samples - VEGF, PAI-1 and PEDF – that flow through the body and help in the formation of new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. Angiogenesis can occur during such processes as wound healing, but it also occurs during the growth of tumors. Since the three measured proteins are involved in nurturing the growth and survival of tumor cells, this is a great reason to lose weight - to lower their levels in the blood. From Science Daily:

Losing weight lowered levels of proteins associated with tumor growth

Overweight or obese women who lost weight through diet or a combination of diet and exercise also significantly lowered levels of proteins in the blood that help certain tumors grow, according to a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study published July 14 in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The study: Measured three proteins that are known to enhance tumor-related angiogenesis -- the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors and enable them to grow. Was intended to see how cancer-promoting proteins changed when overweight, sedentary, postmenopausal women lost weight through diet or diet and exercise over the course of a year. Enrolled 439 healthy women (they did not have cancer), placing each participant in one of four study arms: 1) Calorie- and fat-restricted diet. 2) Aerobic exercise five days a week. 3) Combined diet and exercise. 4) Control (no intervention).

Found that women in the diet arm and the diet and exercise arm lost more weight and had significantly lower levels of angiogenesis-related proteins, compared with women in the exercise-only arm and the control arm.

This study shows that weight loss may be a safe and effective way to improve the "angiogenic profile" of healthy individuals, meaning they would have lower blood levels of cancer-promoting proteins. Although the researchers cannot say for certain that this would impact the growth of tumors, they believe there could be an association between reduced protein levels and a less favorable environment for tumor growth.

Very exciting research IF it pans out - the idea of treating (some) cancers with probiotics (beneficial bacteria). This study was done on mice, and some mice started the probiotic mixture one week before they gave the mice the liver cancer, so...more limitations there. But the idea is so tantalizing and wonderful... And what was in the mixture of bacteria (called probiotic Prohep) that the mice ate that had beneficial results of shrinking liver tumors? The probiotic Prohep is composed of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN), and heat inactivated VSL#3 (1:1:1).  VSL#3 contains: Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, and Lactobacillus delbrueckii. Note that Lactobacillus rhamnosus and some of the others are already found in many probiotic mixtures. From Medical Xpress:

Probiotics dramatically modulate liver cancer growth in mice

Medical research over the last decade has revealed the effects of the gut microbiome across a range of health markers including inflammation, immune response, metabolic function and weight....Previous studies have demonstrated the beneficial role of probiotics in reducing gastrointestinal inflammation and preventing colorectal cancer, but a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explored their immunomodulatory effects on extraintestinal tumors: specifically, in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)HCC is the most common type of liver cancer, and though it is relatively uncommon in the United States, it's the second-most deadly type of cancer worldwide and is particularly prevalent in regions with high rates of hepatitis. 

The researchers designed a study in a mouse model of HCC that quantified the immunological effects of a novel probiotic formulation called Prohep. They fed the mice Prohep for a week prior to tumor inoculation, and they observed a 40 percent reduction of tumor weight and size compared with control animals. Further, they established that the beneficial effects of the probiotics were closely related to the abundance of beneficial bacteria promoted by Prohep. These bacteria produce anti-inflammatory metabolites, which regulated pro-inflammatory immune cell populations via crosstalk between the gut and the liver tumor.

Among their findings, the researchers report that the probiotics reduced liver tumor growth by inhibiting angiogenesis, the process by which the body generates new blood vessels from existing ones, which is essential for tumor growth. They found significantly raised levels of hypoxic GLUT-1+, indicating that tumor reductions were due to hypoxia caused by reduced blood flow. Further, the tumors in the treated mice had 52 percent lower blood vessel area and 54 percent fewer vessel sprouts than the untreated mice.

They also determined that Prohep treatment down-regulated IL-17, a pro-inflammatory angiogenic factor. Because HCC is a highly vascularized tumor, the cancer is generally associated with high levels of IL-17 and an immune T-cell called T helper 17 (Th17), which is transported from the gut to HCC tumors via circulation. The researchers believe that reduced Th17 in tumor cells impedes the inflammation and angiogenesis and limits tumor growth. It's not surprising that they also found that probiotics increased the anti-inflammatory bacteria and metabolites present in the guts of treated mice. They conclude that Prohep intake has the capability of inhibiting tumor progression by modulating the gut microbiota.