A healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight are recommended not only to prevent cardiovascular disease but also to prevent certain cancers such as endometrial cancer. In fact according to a recent study published by the American Institute for Cancer Research ( AICR ) and World Cancer Research Fund International, 3 of the 5 cases of endometrial cancer could be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.
Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer in women; it is estimated that each year in the United States there are 49,600 new cases of endometrial cancer, endometrial cancers exceed the number of cases of ovarian cancer and cervical cancer cases combined.
It is estimated that 60 % of all endometrial cancer cases could be avoided if women do 30 minutes of exercise a day and maintain normal weight. It should be noted that obesity is a risk factor not only for diabetes or cardiovascular events but also for cancer. Alice Bender , AICR Nutrition Communications Manager, explained how obesity may promote cancer development: it looks like body fat produces hormones that cause cancer onset. She added that body fat is involved in chronic inflammation that produces a proper environment that favors the development of cancer.
The study also showed that dietary choices can prevent or promote endometrial cancer . It seems that drinking a cup of coffee a day reduces the risk of endometrial cancer by about 7% , whether regular or decaffeinated coffee. However, the consumption of foods with high glycemic index increases the risk of endometrial cancer by 15% ( for every 50 units of glycemic load). The researchers explained that these dietary factors influence female hormones ( estrogens ) which stimulate the mechanisms underlying endometrial cancer.
Mia Gaudet, director of genetic epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, said the study results confirm previous research on obesity and physical activity. “Endometrial cancer has one of the strongest associations with obesity, of all the cancers we know that are associated with obesity,” Gaudet added. Review panel member Dr. Elisa Bandera, an associate professor of epidemiology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, pointed out that the hormonal changes associated with obesity promote endometrial cancer.
According to Bandera, endometrial cancer is a disease caused by excessive and prolonged stimulation of the endometrium by estrogens. Obese postmenopausal women have an increased production of estrogen ( in adipose tissue), increased insulin, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation, and all these factors affect the endometrium.
On the other hand, exercise has a protective effect against endometrial cancer because it lowers estrogen and insulin levels. Besides these benefits, exercise helps strengthen the immune system and lead to a better digestion.