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Health News Archive 316 - Body Fat
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Workouts Reduce Abdominal Fat

In a study, it took only 15 weeks of twice-a-week workouts -- no dieting -- for a group of women to significantly reduce the fat around their middles and add lean muscle. Both are good steps if you're trying to improve your overall health (not to mention button your jeans). But in relation to breast cancer and colon cancer, the weight work also favorably changed two other potential troublemakers: glucose levels and a growth factor called IGF-I that may encourage the development of tumors.

And that's not all squats, curls, and bench presses can do. Follow-up research has found that strength training fights the weight gain that often plagues women who have fought -- and won -- the battle against breast cancer. There's hope that keeping the pounds down may help stave off a recurrence down the road.

Abstract:

We assessed the effects of twice weekly strength training on several proposed risk factors for breast and colon cancer: body fat, waist circumference, fasting insulin, fasting glucose, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), and several IGF-binding proteins. Fifty-four healthy women, 30-50 years old, were randomized to no-contact control or treatment: 15 weeks of supervised strength training followed by 6 months of unsupervised training. Fifteen-week changes included reductions in percentage of body fat, fasting insulin, fasting glucose, and IGF-I that were larger in the treatment than control participants (treatment versus control mean +/- SE: % body fat -1.97 +/- 0.42 versus -0.43 +/- 0.40, P = 0.01; insulin (uU/ml) -0.29 +/- 0.35 versus 0.81 +/- 0.38, P = 0.055; glucose (mg/dl) -1.92 +/- 1.27 versus 1.21 +/- 1.36, P = 0.13; and IGF-I (ng/ml) -30.47 +/- 9.75 versus 5.86 +/- 10.44, P = 0.02). There was no treatment effect on IGF-binding proteins 1 and 3 or either of two surrogate measures of free IGF-I. By 39 weeks changes in percentages of body fat were largely maintained; IGF-I returned to baseline levels in the treatment group but remained 15% lower in treatment compared with control participants. Strength training produced favorable changes in several proposed cancer risk factors. The importance of these changes to long-term cancer prognosis, diagnosis, and/or recurrence remains to be determined.

Sources:

Effects of a 9-month strength training intervention on insulin, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-1, and IGFBP-3 in 30-50-year-old women. Schmitz, K. H., Ahmed, R. L., Yee, D., Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention 2002 Dec;11(12):1597-1604.

Safety and efficacy of weight training in recent breast cancer survivors to alter body composition, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor axis proteins. Schmitz, K. H., Ahmed, R. L., Hannan, P. J., Yee, D., Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention 2005 Jul;14(7):1672-1680.

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