Recently, research was conducted to study the link between weight loss, body fat and the length of a certain chromosome in the women with breast cancer.
It is well documented that maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercises, and a healthy diet are the keys to cancer prevention and management. However, the exact mechanism through which these factors work was not fully known.
Researchers at the Yale Cancer Center have found an explanation for this link in the small ends of a chromosome called telomeres. These findings will be presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on December 11, 2015.
The research was based on a previously published study conducted at the Yale called LEAN that examined how weight loss through healthy lifestyle changes was linked with the telomere length in the breast cancer survivors who enrolled in a weight-loss program. It was found that the telomeres shortened with each cell division and were also associated with faster aging and an increased risk of mortality in the breast cancer patients.
The Yale study further explored the link between telomere length and weight loss in the breast cancer survivors. The research concluded that telomeres in the breast cancer survivors who had lost weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet were slower to shorten.
“It was also found that the telomere shortening was reversed in some cases when the women followed a healthy diet and lost weight,” said the first author of the study, Dr. Tara Sanft, the assistant professor of medical oncology.
“The results indicate that a higher body fat level could be associated with a shorter telomere length. Also, weight loss was strongly associated with an increase in the length of the telomere,” Sanft said. “This indicates that the length of telomere could be a mechanism through which the relationship between breast cancer risk and mortality and obesity is mediated.”
The senior author of the study, Melinda Irwin, said, “A growing body of scientific research linking lifestyle factors like exercising and maintaining a healthy weight with an improved breast cancer treatment success and survival is compelling.”
“With the findings of exercise and weight loss improving the mechanisms associated with breast cancer mortality and treatment success, a shift in the management of breast cancer patients that includes increased access to lifestyle behavioral counseling is expected,” Irwin said.
Meanwhile, new guidelines have been recommended by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Cancer Society. The women who have undergone lumpectomy for the removal of a cancerous lesion in the breast or mastectomy are advised to have regular follow ups with annual mammograms. Mammograms are not required for the women who have undergone reconstruction of the breasts. MRIs are also not recommended except in cases of high-risk factors.
Following these guidelines and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can improve the chances of survival of breast cancer patients substantially.