Originally published August 1 2009
Naturally Preventable Metabolic Syndrome May Cause Breast Cancer
by S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) Discovering that physiological changes found in about 47 million Americans could be causing breast cancer may not sound like good news, but it is. Here's why: new research just published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, concludes there's a strong link between metabolic syndrome (also sometimes called insulin resistance syndrome) and the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer. And because metabolic syndrome is virtually totally preventable and usually reversible through healthy living the new study could well mean that many cases of breast cancer can be prevented, naturally, too.
Metabolic syndrome consists of several signs and symptoms including abdominal obesity, high blood glucose levels, impaired glucose tolerance, abnormal lipid levels (low levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, and high triglycerides) and high blood pressure. Found in sedentary people who are often overweight, eat junk food and make other poor nutrition choices, the syndrome has long been known to increase the risk for two other potentially killer diseases -- diabetes and heart disease. In fact, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) web site notes that almost 25 percent of all Americans have metabolic syndrome and the condition is growing at such an alarming rate due to increasing obesity that it may overtake smoking as the leading risk for heart disease.
Geoffrey C. Kabat, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist in the department of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, and colleagues conducted the current study to see if the elevated insulin levels found in metabolic syndrome are connected to the development of breast malignancies. It's the first time scientists have assessed whether women who met criteria indicating they have metabolic syndrome are at greater risk for postmenopausal breast cancer.
For their longitudinal study, the scientists worked with existing data from the Women's Health Initiative. This large, national study was created to assess major causes of chronic diseases in women. Research subjects included women between the ages of 50 and 79 at enrollment who were found to repeatedly have signs of metabolic syndrome over an eight-year period -- including elevated blood glucose, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides, hypertension and excessive fat around their middles.
Out of 4,888 women with baseline measurements for metabolic syndrome who did not have diabetes, 165 cases of breast cancer were diagnosed during the follow-up period. On the surface, this finding wasn't enough to link metabolic syndrome with breast cancer risk. But when the scientists analyzed repeated measurements, they found that women who had the metabolic syndrome for three to five years prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer had twice the risk of having the disease when compared to other women without the syndrome or who had not had it for long.
Moreover, the researchers also found significant associations between elevated blood glucose levels, triglycerides and diastolic blood pressure and breast cancer. Increased diastolic blood pressure (the second number in a blood pressure measurement), raised the risk of breast cancer an alarming 2.4 times. For both triglycerides and glucose, the relative risk was increased by 1.7 for all breast cancer.
Researcher Tim Byers, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and interim director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, points out that these findings could help explain why being overweight is a known risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer.
"We have assumed that the relationship between weight and breast cancer risk is due to increased circulating estrogens among postmenopausal women who are overweight or obese," he said in a media statement. "An alternative explanation is explored here: that some other aspect of the metabolic syndrome might be involved, such as growth-stimulating effects of insulin, or insulin-like growth factors."
Dr. Byers added that additional research is needed to study specific ways in which the metabolism of the female hormone estrogen metabolism is tied to the metabolic syndrome. "Though estrogens are produced in adipose (fat) tissues, just how these are metabolized in various subgroups of women needs better study. In addition, the hyper-inflammatory state of obesity and the metabolic syndrome need to be better described relative to cancer risk."
Worried about breast cancer and already showing some signs of metabolic syndrome? You can gain control of your health by natural means. Healthy lifestyle changes can prevent and reverse symptoms metabolic syndrome. According to the NHLBI, weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation and nutritious foods are the first line of treatment. As reported previously in Natural News, some of the natural health strategies that can help beat metabolic syndrome include adding nuts to a Mediterranean style of eating (http://www.naturalnews.com/025098_nuts_medit...), practicing yoga (http://www.naturalnews.com/023726_yoga_blood...) and eating cinnamon (http://www.naturalnews.com/020826.html). In addition, avoiding diet sodas is wise (http://www.naturalnews.com/025644_diabetes_T...) because research has linked these chemical-laden beverages with the development of metabolic syndrome.
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