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Obes Rev. 2006 Feb;7(1):33-47.

Energy balance adiposity and breast cancer - energy restriction strategies for breast cancer prevention.

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CRUK University Department of Medical Oncology, Christie Hospital, Manchester, UK.


Excess adiposity over the pre- and postmenopausal years is linked to risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Weight loss could potentially reduce risk amongst those with excess weight via beneficial effects on the hormonal (decreased circulating levels of oestradiol, testosterone, insulin) and secretory profiles of adipocytes (decreased production of leptin, tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin 6 and increased production of adiponectin). Only modest reductions in adipose tissue are achieved and sustained with current weight loss programmes, which makes strategies to mitigate the adverse metabolic effect of adiposity a priority for cancer prevention. The adverse hormonal and secretory effects of adipose tissue are influenced substantially by acute changes in energy balance prior to changes in adiposity. Human and animal studies have shown dietary energy restriction to bring about favourable changes in circulating levels of insulin, leptin, sex hormone binding globulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, oestradiol, testosterone, reactive oxygen species, and the production and secretion of locally acting adipokines and inflammatory cytokines, that is, increased adiponectin and decreased interleukin-6. Achieving and sustaining energy restriction remains a difficult challenge. Intermittent energy restriction is a potential strategy for promoting periods of energy restriction on a long-term basis. Animal and human data suggest that intermittent energy restriction may have cancer preventative effects beyond that of chronic energy restriction and weight loss. Intermittent energy restriction may be a potential strategy for the primary prevention of breast cancer.

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