More than 192,000 women in the U.S. alone learn each year that
they have breast cancer. The figure for women around the world runs into
Approximately 5-10% of these women have a hereditary form of
Changes, called alterations or mutations, in certain genes
make some women
more susceptible to developing breast and other types of
alterations in the genes called BRCA1 (Breast Cancer Gene 1)
(Breast Cancer Gene 2) are involved in many cases of
cancer, as well as ovarian cancer. Researchers are searching
for other genes
that may also increase a woman's cancer risk.
The likelihood that breast and/or ovarian cancer is associated
with BRCA1 or
2 is highest in families with a history of multiple cases of
breast cancer, as well as in cases of both breast and ovarian cancer, in
examples of one or more family members with two primary cancers (original tumors
at different sites) or an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish background.
However, not every woman in such families carries an
alteration in BRCA1 or 2 and not every cancer in such families is linked to alterations
in these genes.
A new survey suggests the risk from BRCA1 and 2 breast cancer
mutations in young women may be reduced by reversing Insulin Resistance, which can be an underlying factor in
excess weight, and obesity.
An international team of scientists found that women aged
between 18 and 30 who carry BRCA1 and 2 can significantly reduce their risk of
developing breast cancer by losing weight. Research showed that women who
lost at least 10 lbs between those ages reduced their risk of cancer by up
to 65%. But the survey also produced evidence that gaining 10 lbs in the same
age group increased the women's risk of developing cancer before the age
of 40. (1)
Being overweight after Menopause was already known to
increase the risk to women. But authors of the new
study say it is the first to link the weight of women of reproductive age with
Researchers from the U.S., Canada and Poland looked at more
than 2,000 women carrying faulty or mutated BRCA1 or 2 breast cancer genes.
BRCA1 and 2 are tumor-suppressor genes that, when functioning normally, help
repair damage to DNA in a process that also prevents tumor development.
In 1994, researchers discovered that women who carry BRCA1 or
2 mutations are at higher risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer
than women who do not have these genetic mutations.
The women in the latest study were tested for BRCA1 and 2
genes and questioned about their weight at ages 18, 30 and 40. It was
found that women carrying the BRCA1 gene who lost weight saw the greatest
At 18, they had an average weight of 142.5 lbs. By the age of
30, these women had lost a minimum of 10 lbs and an average of 18.6 lbs and
experienced a reduction in risk of up to 65%. Weight loss also reduced the
risk of cancer for women with the defective breast cancer gene BRCA2, but not
to a significant degree.
On the other hand, gaining weight substantially heightened the
risk of breast cancer for BRCA1 mutation carriers who had borne at least two
children. These women increased their risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer
before the age of 40 by 44% if they gained 10 lbs between the ages of 18 and 30.
The study suggests that carrying extra fat around the center
of the body could affect ovarian hormones and glucose metabolism,
increasing the likelihood of the onset of Insulin Resistance. A reduction in insulin receptor sites on cell membranes is present in people with Insulin Resistance. The lack of
sites means that insulin cannot perform its normal role of allowing
sufficient blood glucose to pass through cells to be used as energy.
As a result, glucose and insulin levels become unhealthy.
Excess glucose in the bloodstream from Insulin Resistance
is converted and stored as fat which can result in obesity. Excess insulin
can also increase the risk of Pre-Diabetes,
which if left unchecked may lead to Type 2 Diabetes that can only be managed.
High insulin levels can also affect a woman's hormones and be a factor in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of female
infertility, as well as skin conditions, excess body hair, and male pattern
baldness. PCOS sufferers are also at greater risk for Cardiovascular Disease.
Insulin Resistance can, however, be reversed. But, if left unchecked, Insulin Resistance can also
lead to the cluster of cardiovascular risk factors called
Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X.
Lead researcher Dr. Steven Narod of the University of Toronto,
Canada, wrote: "The results from this study suggest that weight
loss in early adult life protects against early-onset BRCA-associated
breast cancers. Weight gain should also be avoided, particularly
among BRCA1 mutation carriers, who elect to have at least two
"Weight gain should also be avoided, particularly among BRCA1
mutation carriers, who elect to have at least two pregnancies." There is no single pill that will reverse excess weight and
obesity. But there are ways to address Insulin Resistance, which is often
the underlying cause of all these conditions.
There is no single pill that will reverse excess weight and
obesity. But there are ways to address Insulin Resistance which
is often an underlying cause.
If you wish optimum health, you should consider a
system that combines potent nutraceuticals (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and botanicals formulated to address specific conditions), a realistic exercise program, nutritional
guidance, and a support system that will help you change unhealthy lifestyle
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reverse insulin resistance and manage excessive weight. The
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(1) Changes in body weight and the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Kotsopoulos J, Olopado OI, Ghadirian P, Lubinski J, Lynch HT, Isaacs C,
Weber B, Kim-Sing C, Ainsworth P, Foulkes WD, Eisen A, Sun P, Narod SA., Breast Cancer Res. 2005;7(5):R833-43. Epub 2005 Aug 19.