Category Archives: Nutrition

Total Body Fat Vs. Belly Fat in Breast Cancer Risk

I came across this very interesting study through a Medical News Today article (link below). The paper manuscript itself is free, but comes across as a little difficult to read on the downloadable PDF version , because of the way it appears to be output by the journal. However, it is always good to be able to access the full paper, and not simply the summary.

The premise

Among several risk factors, body fat is a breast cancer risk. There apparently have been contentions about where specific biomarkers that indicate breast cancer are produced, with some previous studies. This study has shown that overall weight loss is more beneficial in terms of breast cancer biomarker production reduction, rather than focusing on belly fat alone.

The current study

The current study is limited to post-menopausal women. Conducted in the Netherlands, 243 overweight women were recruited. They lost 5 – 6kg over a period of 16 weeks. A set of biomarkers, indicative of sex hormones, leptin and inflammation were compared before and after the weight loss. The fat changes themselves were measured using X-ray and MRI scans.

The latter appears to be important. The MNT article includes a statement that this study is different than previous ones that used waist measurements. I can see this being quite an important difference. X-rays and MRI scans definitely appear to be more fastidious methods of assessing fat changes, specific to a body region.

Results

Increased belly fat, according to Dr. Evelyn Monninkhof, the lead in the study indicates, increases the risk for several chronic diseases, independent of total body fat. She indicates however, that sex hormones, are more affected by total body fat and not just localized fat, as concluded from the study.

She also points that their next steps is to look at how to reduce levels of total fat and abdominal fat. This said, it appears that women, especially those postmenopausal and those approaching menopause can benefit from exercise and nutritional changes that lead to total fat loss, and hopefully, abdominal fat loss along the way. It is always important to contact licensed medical and/or nutritional professionals when considering exercise and/or dietary changes.

References:

  1. The MNT Article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/317498.php
  2. The Endocrinology Paper: http://erc.endocrinology-journals.org/content/early/2017/05/16/ERC-16-0490.abstract?sid=9f3c9977-0e81-4583-bdf5-07b3f182f911
  3. Image Courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-with-umbrella-on-beach-247304/

Some secrets of the relationship between Vitamin D and Calcium Intake to Early Menopause revealed

A Cholla Dusk

Early Menopause

Early Menopause is generally detrimental to a woman’s health and mental well being. Thus it is important that factors that delay early menopause are exposed and women are prescribed appropriate remedies.

Limitations in the reported study

This particular study (link below) tried to differentiate Vitamin D and Calcium intake through food and through supplements. The article that talks about this study reveals some key limitations of the study, with respect to the number of people who take large quantities of supplements, enrolled as well as the fact that the subjects are predominantly Caucasian. Because the diet data was self-reported, that offers a problem as well. It is a little saddening to see an NIH funded study take on such a form.

They did account for factors such as smoking, alcohol, BMI etc.

For many of the explanations though, there are only theories and hypotheses offered. This, I am sure, is because it will take thorough, large scale studies before they can be proven.

Interesting Results

Despite the fact that at least the article tries to conclude that food-based intake of Calcium and Vitamin D is the primary driver of the push-back on early menopause, as opposed to supplemental intake, I am not sure the study lays this out for us to subscribe to, with enough confidence.

In general, it appears that taking in recommended levels of Calcium and Vitamin D, either through food, supplements, or in the case of Vitamin D, safe exposure to sun (a problem for Caucasians with their high risk to skin cancer, and perhaps a factor in the recruitment for the study, which if true, is perhaps explained better in the paper, which unfortunately sits behind a paid wall), reduces the risk of early menopause.

Conclusion

As stated, early menopause comes with significant health and financial burden to the women and health systems in the general. Therefore, not only should the results of such studies be used, they should be expanded to solidify evidence, and diversify it based on race and other factors.

Reference:

  1. A summary of the study: http://www.medpagetoday.com/endocrinology/menopause/65189