Hormone Levels Drop When Obese Women Lose Weight


Much research has shown that being overweight or obese increases a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Doctors don’t completely understand why extra weight is associated with higher hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer risk. It’s likely that extra body fat increases levels of estrogen and other hormones. Higher hormone levels can increase breast cancer risk.

A study supports the link between excess weight and higher hormone levels. The study found that estrogen and testosterone levels dropped quite a bit when overweight and obese women lost weight. The results were published online May 21, 2012 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read the abstract of Reduced-Calorie Dietary Weight Loss, Exercise, and Sex Hormones in Postmenopausal Women: Randomized Controlled Trial.

All the 439 overweight or obese, postmenopausal women, age 50 to 75, were considered sedentary before they joined the study. This means that the women said they exercised fewer than 100 minutes per week at a moderate level.

The women were randomly assigned to one of four groups:

  • Low calorie diet group (diet-only group). The women ate 1,200 to 2,000 calories each day (depending on each woman’s starting weight) and less than 30% of the calories came from fat. The women in the diet-only group also occasionally met one-on-one with a dietitian, attended weekly dietitian-led group meetings, and kept daily food logs.
  • Moderate to vigorous intensity exercise group (exercise-only group). The women did 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise (brisk walking, for example), 5 days per week for a total of 225 minutes of exercise per week. Some of the exercise was done in monitored workouts.
  • Diet-plus-exercise group. The women followed both the low calorie diet AND did 225 minutes of moderate to v…

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