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Losing weight lowers inflammation in body

May 2nd, 2012
Staff Writer

Photo credit: public health image libraryLosing weight leads to a number of health benefits – if you’re overweight to begin with. A new study shows that a reduction in inflammation levels is among the advantages of dropping a few pounds.

The study focused on postmenopausal women who were overweight or obese and lost at least 5 percent of their body weight over the course of one year. Researchers measured the women’s inflammation by focusing on several markers, including C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, interleukin-6, leukocyte and neutrophil. The women relied on either diet and exercise or diet alone to lose weight.

At the end of one year, levels of C-reactive protein were reduced by 36.1 percent in the diet-alone group and by 41.7 percent in the diet and exercise group. Interleukin-6 decreased by 23.1 percent in the diet group and 24.3 percent in the diet and exercise group.

The researchers found greater reductions in these measures among women who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. They also found that exercise alone, without a dietary weight loss component, had little effect on inflammation markers.

Lowering inflammation in the body reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

"Both obesity and inflammation have been shown to be related to several types of cancer, and this study shows that if you reduce weight, you can reduce inflammation as well," said Dr. Anne McTiernan, director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash.

Moreover, it doesn’t take a huge weight loss to achieve changes in inflammation.

"So this program was highly achievable and reproducible. We are not talking about drastic weight loss," McTiernan said.

The study was published Tuesday in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.