How Weight-Loss Prevents Breast Cancer Reoccurrence-Subject of New Colorado State Study

Breast cancer is twice as likely to reoccur in women who are overweight or obese. Whether the process of weight loss provides protection against cancer, or if it is necessary to reach a healthy weight to reduce the reoccurrence of cancer is a key question addressed in a new study to be conducted by the Cancer Prevention Laboratory at Colorado State University.

"This study will look at breast-cancer recurrence and seek to define chemical measures that indicate the likelihood of disease-free survival," said Henry Thompson, director of the laboratory and an established cancer researcher who has worked with women with breast cancer since 1993.

The study — funded through a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health — is designed to answer questions about how dietary glycemic load and fat loss influence metabolic and hormonal processes that may affect breast cancer recurrence, Thompson said. To do so, he will recruit 350 post-menopausal women who have been treated for breast cancer. They will be put on one of two popular diets – the Ornish Diet or the South Beach Diet. He also wants to find out which dietary approach works best for most women trying to lose weight.

Thompson and his team will examine markers which indicate inflammation, oxidization damage and glucose levels. These makers also reflect risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Each woman will be given a goal of losing a pound of fat a week for six months, for a total of 26 pounds – an impressive amount for any dieter, Thompson said. However he is most interested in how changes in the body’s composition during weight loss affect cancer recurrence biomarkers.

"Breast cancer survivors are a highly motivated group and they are committed to improving and maintaining their health," Thompson said. "We want to provide them with the information they need that empowers them to be successful."

For more information about the Cancer Prevention Laboratory at Colorado State, visit online at