HealthDay News — Overweight and obese women who lose weight via calorie restriction, with or without exercise, may lower their odds of developing cancer as their levels of proteins tied to angiogenesis drop, according to a study published online July 15 in Cancer Research.

Catherine Duggan, PhD, principal staff scientist in the public health sciences division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues randomly assigned 439 overweight and obese postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 75, to one of four groups. The groups included: a calorie-restricted diet of no more than 2,000 calories a day; an aerobic exercise program of 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise five days a week; a combination of diet and exercise; or no diet or exercise. The researchers took blood samples at the start of the study and a year later.

After adjusting for weight, age, race, and ethnicity, the researchers found that women in the diet and exercise groups lost 2 to 11% of their body weight, while women who did not take part in these programs lost less than 1% of their body weight. Moreover, compared with women who did not diet or exercise, those who dieted, or dieted and exercised, had significantly lower levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), and pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF). However, this effect was not apparent in women in the exercise-only group.

“Weight loss is significantly associated with reduced circulating VEGF, PEDF, and PAI-1, and could provide incentive for reducing weight as a cancer prevention method in overweight and obese individuals,” the authors write.

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