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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.

From Medical Xpress:

Obesity may shorten life expectancy up to eight years

'Tis the season to indulge. However, restraint may be best according to a new study led by investigators at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and McGill University. The researchers examined the relationship between body weight and life expectancy. Their findings show that overweight and obese individuals have the potential to decrease life expectancy by up to 8 years. The study, published in the current issue of The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, further demonstrates that when one considers that these individuals may also develop diabetes or cardiovascular disease earlier in life, this excess weight can rob them of nearly two decades of healthy life.

Dr. Grover and his colleagues used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (from years 2003 to 2010) to develop a model that estimates the annual risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults with different body weights. This data from almost 4,000 individuals was also used to analyze the contribution of excess body weight to years of life lost and healthy years of life lost.

Their findings estimated that individuals who were very obese could lose up to 8 years of life, obese individuals could lose up to 6 years, and those who were overweight could lose up to three years. In addition, healthy life-years lost were two to four times higher for overweight and obese individuals compared to those who had a healthy weight, defined as 18.5-25 body mass index (BMI). The age at which the excess weight accumulated was an important factor and the worst outcomes were in those who gained their weight at earlier ages.

"The pattern is clear - the more an individual weighs and the younger their age, the greater the effect on their health," Dr. Grover adds. "In terms of life-expectancy, we feel being overweight is as bad as cigarette smoking."