Extra Pounds Double Women’s Risk of Endometrial Cancer

Obesity is tied to many types of cancer, and new research finds that over the long term it nearly doubles a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer.

“This study is an interesting first step into how genetic analyses could be used to uncover exactly how obesity causes cancer, and what can be done to tackle it,” said study lead author Emma Hazelwood, of the University of Bristol in England.

“Links between obesity and womb [endometrial] cancer are well-known, but this is one of the largest studies which has looked into exactly why that is on a molecular level. We look forward to further research exploring how we can now use this information to help reduce the risk of cancer in people struggling with obesity,” Hazelwood said in a Cancer Research UK news release.

For the study, the researchers analyzed genetic samples from about 120,000 women in the United States, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, including about 13,000 with endometrial cancer.

For every five extra body mass index (BMI) units, there was an 88% increased risk of endometrial cancer. BMI is an estimate of body fat based on weight and height. Five BMI units is the difference between being overweight and obese.

The Cancer Research UK-funded study is one of the first to examine how a higher lifelong BMI affects endometrial cancer risk.

Endometrial cancer is one of the types of cancer most closely associated with obesity and is the most common gynecological cancer in high-income countries, the study authors noted.

“This will play a pivotal role in uncovering how to prevent and treat cancer in the future,” said Dr. Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK.

“More research is needed to investigate exactly which treatments and drugs could be used to manage cancer risk among people struggling with obesity,” Sharp added. “We already know that being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing 13 different types of cancer. To reduce your cancer risk, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and staying active.”

The findings were published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Source: HealthDay

Study: Excess Weight in Midlife Means a Sicker Old Age

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Here’s a compelling reason to shed those extra pounds: A new study finds that middle-aged people who are obese, or even simply overweight, may face more health problems down the road.

The study, of nearly 30,000 men and women, found that the more people weighed around age 40, the greater their odds of chronic health conditions after age 65. And obesity, particularly severe levels, ultimately cut people’s lives short by five years, on average, compared to those who were in the normal-weight range.

“There are serious health consequences to obesity that should not be ignored,” said lead researcher Dr. Sadiya Khan. She is an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.

Class III obesity, once known as “morbid obesity,” refers to a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more.

“These patients are at least 100 pounds overweight, and often have conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Vance Albaugh, a bariatric surgeon and researcher at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, La.

Those people, Albaugh said, frequently need help beyond lifestyle changes — including medication or some type of weight-loss surgery. Those procedures alter the digestive tract to limit the amount of food a person can eat and the absorption of calories from food.

But this study shows that while class III obesity in middle age might be the biggest health threat, it is not the only one, Albaugh said.

The findings show a gradient: Middle-aged people who were overweight fared a little worse in older age than those who were normal-weight, and those with mild obesity did a little worse still.

“That’s not surprising,” said Albaugh, who was not involved in the research. But it underscores the potential benefits of healthy lifestyle changes for people with the common middle-age spread, he said.

“This suggests you can benefit from losing a small amount of weight, or just stopping yourself from moving into the ‘obese’ category,” Albaugh added.

That’s not to say weight loss — or more to the point, maintaining weight loss — is easy. The human body is more wired toward gaining weight than losing it, Albaugh said. So when calories are more scarce, the body responds by expending fewer of them.

On top of that, people generally gain weight as they get older, Albaugh noted. It all means that a middle-aged person trying to shed pounds may be fighting an uphill battle.

The good news, though, is that it’s not all about the number on the scale, Albaugh said. People can still reap health benefits from eating well and exercising, even if the scale shows little change.

The new findings, published online in JAMA Network Open, are based on almost 30,000 Chicago-area adults who were followed for over 40 years. At the outset, they were 40 years of age, on average.

Overall, those who were overweight had a similar life expectancy as their counterparts with a normal BMI. But obesity took about two to five years from people’s lives. People who were normal-weight died at age 82, on average, versus age 77 among those with class III obesity in middle-age.

But when it came to chronic health conditions, even overweight people were worse off. Compared with their normal-weight counterparts, they typically spent an extra year of their lives with conditions like heart disease, diabetes or stroke. That increased to two to three years among people who were moderately obese (class I or II) in middle-age.

Khan stressed that “it’s never too early or too late” to make lifestyle changes for the better.

But she also said the burden should not be on individuals alone — especially people with low incomes who struggle to simply pay the rent. Khan said they need the help of policies that, for example, make healthy “whole” foods more accessible and provide “green spaces” for exercise.

Albaugh also suggested that people start with small changes that are achievable and, most importantly, sustainable. That could mean replacing sugary drinks with water, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking a daily walk around the neighborhood.

Source: HealthDay

Obesity Raises Odds for Many Common Cancers

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

Being obese or overweight can increase the odds of developing several types of cancers, new research from the United Kingdom reveals.

But shedding the excess pounds can lower the risk, researchers say.

Reducing obesity cuts the risk for endometrial cancer by 44% and uterine cancer by 39%, and could also prevent 18% of kidney cancers and 17% of stomach and liver cancers, according to the study.

“It all depends on keeping the weight off,” said lead researcher Carlos Celis-Morales of the BHF Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He noted that many people lose weight only to regain it back — and then some.

“What we need is kind of a long-term healthy weight and people that achieve that will reduce the risk,” Celis-Morales said. “That is why it’s so important that people improve the quality of their lifestyle in order to keep a healthy body weight.”

He cautioned, however, that this study can’t prove that excess weight causes cancer or that losing weight prevents it, only that there seems to be a strong connection between excess weight and cancer risk.

For the study, Celis-Morales and his colleagues drew on data from the U.K. Biobank on more than 400,000 men and women who were cancer-free.

The investigators wanted to know the risk of developing and dying from 24 cancers based on six markers of obesity: body fat percentage, waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio, waist and hip circumferences and body mass index (BMI), an estimate of body fat based on height and weight.

No matter which way it was measured, obesity increased the odds of developing 10 of the most common cancers, the study found. A larger waist and hips, BMI or percentage of body fat all provided similar cancer risk.

Celis-Morales said BMI is an adequate way to gauge weight-related cancer risk, and there’s no benefit in turning to more complex or costly measures such as waist size or body fat percentage.

For example, a BMI score of 24.9 is considered normal, and every addition of about 4 for men and 5 for women above 25 was linked a 3% higher risk of cancer overall.

It also increased the risk of cancers of the stomach (35%), gallbladder (33%), liver (27%), kidney (26%), pancreas (12%), colon (10%), and bladder (9%).

That same amount of excess weight was also associated with a sharply higher odds of two cancers affecting women — 73% for endometrial cancer and 68% for uterine cancer. It also was linked to an 8% increase for postmenopausal breast cancer.

Lauren Teras, scientific director for epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society, reviewed the findings.

“Some of the ways in which obesity is thought to impact cancer includes elevated levels of sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, also insulin-related growth factors and leptin and adiponectin, which are proteins given off by fat tissue,” she said.

Despite strong evidence that excess weight boosts risk for many cancers, less is known about whether losing weight can successfully reverse it, Teras said.

“This is likely because losing weight in adulthood is relatively uncommon, making it difficult to study,” she said. “However, several studies of patients undergoing major weight-loss surgeries have found lower risk of several types of cancer in these patients.”

Maintaining a normal weight, eating a balanced diet and being physically active are beneficial for many aspects of health, Teras said.

“My advice is to find a plan that works for you and stick with it until it becomes a habit,” she suggested. “To increase your physical activity, do what sounds fun to you. Eat a diet that is customized to your preferences, but includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit portion sizes.”

Then find an accountability partner to keep you on track. “We’re all more likely to succeed when we have support,” Teras said.

The findings were published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Source: HealthDay

In Breast Cancer Survivors, Obesity Raises Odds for Cancer’s Return

Cara Murez wrote . . . . . . . . .

Most people know obesity can lead to diabetes or heart disease, but excess weight can play a role in cancer, too, researchers say.

A new study found that breast cancer survivors who are overweight have a statistically significant increased risk of developing a second primary cancer – one not connected to their previous cancer.

The risk likely owes to shared risk factors between the two cancers – of which obesity is one – as well as genetic susceptibility and long-term effects of breast cancer treatment, the study authors said.

“The risk is comparable to what we would see for an initial breast cancer,” said Heather Spencer Feigelson, senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research, in Aurora. “It’s just another piece of evidence showing us how [excess weight] is really important.”

For the study, the researchers reviewed data from nearly 6,500 women treated at Kaiser Permanente in Colorado and Washington state. Roughly equal percentages were normal weight, overweight and obese.

Women who had an invasive breast cancer had a small, but significantly higher risk for a second cancer as their body mass index (BMI) increased, the study found. (BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight.)

That link was more pronounced when the analysis focused on obesity-related cancers or second breast cancers, the researchers said. The link was strongest for a diagnosis of estrogen receptor-positive second breast cancer.

Of the 14 cancers listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as obesity-related, some are common and some are harder to treat, Feigelson said.

The investigators found that 822 (nearly 13%) of the women developed a second cancer after an average follow-up of just over seven years. Of those, nearly 62% were an obesity-related cancer and 40% were a second breast cancer.

The 508 obesity-related cancers included 283 postmenopausal breast cancers; 70 colon/rectal cancers; 68 uterine cancers; 21 ovarian cancers; 23 pancreatic cancers; and 14 kidney cancers. There were fewer than 10 cases each of thyroid, esophageal, gallbladder, multiple myeloma, meningioma, liver and upper stomach cancers.

Though having excess weight appears to increase risk, evidence that shedding pounds and keeping them off reduces risk is limited, because losing weight is hard, Feigelson said.

“The science suggests that, yes, if you lose weight you should reduce your risk, but really the best studies … are studies of women who have gotten bariatric [weight-loss] surgery, and those who lose that large amount of weight do have lower risk of cancer,” Feigelson said.

About 55% of all cancers in women occur in those who are overweight or obese.

Feigelson noted there are a lot of breast cancer risk factors that women can’t do much about.

“For example, for these second breast cancers or second cancers after breast cancer, one risk factor is treatment, and obviously you’re not going to forgo treatment,” she said. “But this is something that women actually can have control over. And I think if you’re worried about cancer or you’re a cancer survivor, having those things that you can control and do something about can be very important to you.”

Building some healthy habits into your everyday life can help with cancer prevention. Maintain a healthy body weight, be active and don’t sit so much, Feigelson advised.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The researchers noted that one limitation of the study was a lack of diversity, because about 82% of the participants were white women.

Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, director of the Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and Healthy Living at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, reviewed the findings.

“I think this paper really provides a compelling rationale for why thinking about weight loss after being diagnosed with breast cancer is important,” she said.

Excess weight has a multipronged effect on a person’s body, increasing levels of insulin and other metabolic markers, as well as inflammation, Ligibel said. It probably also depresses the immune system, she added.

In addition, she noted that excess weight raises levels of sex hormones that can also lead to the development of certain types of cancer.

“It’s probably not one thing, but the complex interplay between these different systems,” said Ligibel, who is part of another study that is investigating whether a weight-loss program as part of breast cancer treatment can lead to lower rates of new cancers.

For many years, she noted, the American Cancer Society has made recommendations about nutrition, physical activity and weight for cancer prevention and for cancer survivors. They include trying to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

“Unfortunately, [a lot of people have] gained weight as a result of the quarantining and everything else through this last year, but I think that this is a goal that we really need to be thinking about on a societal level,” Ligibel said.

Source : HealthDay

Report: COVID Death Rates 10 Times Higher in Countries Where Most Are Overweight

Robin Foster and Ernie Mundell wrote . . . . . . . . .

In a finding that suggests overweight people should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines, a new report released Thursday shows the risk of death from coronavirus infection is about 10 times higher in countries where most of the population is overweight.

The World Obesity Federation report found that 88 percent of deaths due to COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic were in countries where more than half of the population is classified as overweight, the Washington Post reported. Having a body mass index (BMI) above 25 is considered overweight.

The results prompted the London-based federation to urge governments to prioritize overweight and obese people for both coronavirus testing and vaccinations, the Post reported.

Among the nations with overweight populations above the 50 percent threshold were also those with some of the largest proportions of coronavirus deaths — including countries such as Britain, Italy and the United States, the Post reported. In the United States, nearly three-quarters of the population is considered overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, more than 518,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

Conversely, in countries where less than half of the adult population is classified as overweight, the risk of death from COVID-19 was about one-tenth of the levels in countries with higher shares of overweight adults. A higher BMI was also associated with increased risk of hospitalization, admission to intensive or critical care and the need for mechanically assisted ventilation, the Post said.

These findings were fairly uniform across the globe, the report said. In fact, increased body weight was the second greatest predictor — after old age — of hospitalization and higher risk of death of COVID-19.

To reach that conclusion, the researchers examined mortality data on 160 countries from Johns Hopkins University and the World Health Organization. Of the 2.5 million COVID-19 deaths reported by the end of February, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population is overweight, CNN reported.

Every country where less than 40% of the population was overweight had a COVID-19 death rate of no more than 10 people per 100,000.

But in countries where more than 50% of the population was overweight, the COVID-19 death rate was much higher — more than 100 per 100,000.

“An overweight population is an unhealthy population, and a pandemic waiting to happen,” the group wrote in its report.

All American adults can get vaccines by end of May: Biden

The United States is now poised to have enough COVID-19 vaccines for every American adult by the end of May, President Joe Biden said this week.

The announcement, which came during a brief speech at the White House on Tuesday, accelerates the country’s vaccination goals by two months.

“As a consequence of the stepped-up process that I’ve ordered and just outlined, this country will have enough vaccine supply — I’ll say it again — for every adult in America by the end of May,” Biden said. “By the end of May. That’s progress — important progress.”

How was it possible to speed up the U.S. vaccine rollout?

Biden said his administration provided support to Johnson & Johnson so the company and its partners can make vaccines around the clock, The New York Times reported. In addition to that, the administration brokered a deal in which the pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. would help manufacture the newly approved Johnson & Johnson single-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Although its own attempt at making a COVID-19 vaccine failed, Merck is the world’s second-largest vaccine manufacturer, according to the Times. White House officials described the partnership between the two competitors as historic and said it harkens back to the wartime manufacturing campaigns that former President Franklin D. Roosevelt put into place.

Biden also said Tuesday that he wanted all teachers to receive at least one shot by the end of this month, the Times reported.

Biden’s announcement came days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. As of Thursday, 80.5 million Americans had been vaccinated, with nearly 27 million getting their second shot.

Even as vaccinations ramp up, public health officials worry about another surge of coronavirus cases, as new, more infectious variants emerge and states like Texas and Mississippi lift their mask mandates and roll back many of their coronavirus restrictions. Although cases have dropped significantly since January, they are now leveling off, the Times reported.

“We cannot let our guard down now or assure that victory is inevitable,” Biden said Tuesday. “We can’t assume that.”

U.S. will stick with two doses of Pfizer, Moderna vaccines: Fauci

The United States will stick with its plan to give millions of Americans two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

The nation’s top infectious diseases expert told the Post that shifting to a single-dose strategy for those two vaccines could leave people less protected, allow more contagious variants to spread and make Americans already hesitant to get the shots even more wary.

“We’re telling people [two shots] is what you should do … and then we say, ‘Oops, we changed our mind’?” Fauci said. “I think that would be a messaging challenge, to say the least.”

Fauci said he spoke on Monday with health officials in the United Kingdom, who are delaying second doses to give more people shots more quickly. He said that although he understands the strategy, it wouldn’t make sense in America. “We both agreed that both of our approaches were quite reasonable,” Fauci told the Post.

Some public health experts have asked U.S. policymakers to reconsider whether millions of doses intended as second shots could be distributed as first doses instead — to offer at least some protection to a greater number of people. The issue gained steam after a CDC advisory committee on Monday tackled the question while approving Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine.

About 80 percent of adults have yet to get a single dose, according to CDC data.

Fauci told the Post the science shows that a two-shot regimen creates enough protection to fend off more contagious coronavirus variants, while a single shot could leave Americans at risk from these variants. There is insufficient data showing how long the immunity provided by one shot would last. “You don’t know how durable that protection is,” he noted.

Fauci also argued that Pfizer’s and Moderna’s recent commitment to deliver 220 million total doses by the end of March, in addition to Johnson & Johnson’s pledge to deliver nearly 20 million shots this month, should make the issue moot.

“Very quickly the gap between supply and demand is going to be diminished and then overcome in this country,” he said. “The rationale for a single dose — and use all your doses for the single dose — is when you have a very severe gap between supply and demand.”

A global scourge

By Thursday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 28.8 million while the death toll passed 518,000, according to a Times tally. On Thursday, the top five states for coronavirus infections were: California with nearly 3.6 million cases; Texas with nearly 2.7 million cases; Florida with over 1.9 million cases; New York with over 1.6 million cases; and Illinois with nearly 1.2 million cases.

Curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the rest of the world remains challenging.

In India, the coronavirus case count was more than 11.1 million by Thursday, a Johns Hopkins University tally showed. Brazil had over 10.7 million cases and more than 259,000 deaths as of Thursday, the Hopkins tally showed.

Worldwide, the number of reported infections passed 115.3 million on Thursday, with over 2.5 million deaths recorded, according to the Hopkins tally.

Source: HealthDay