Making simple changes to lifestyle - maintaining a healthy diet and exercising frequently - can lower blood proteins that are associated with promoting cancer development, a study finds.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Research, found a reduction in the levels of a blood protein involved in angiogenesis when overweight and obese women experienced weight loss through diet and exercise.
Angiogenesis is the process by which damaged blood vessels are repaired and new blood vessels are formed.
Without oxygen and nutrients, both healthy cells and cancer cells cannot survive. These cells send out signals, called angiogenic factors, and it is these factors that encourage new blood vessels to grow and cancer cells to grow into a tumor.
Tumors are unable to grow beyond a few millimeters in size without a blood supply. However, once cancer cells stimulate the growth of a blood vessel, they can develop quickly.
Catherine Duggan, Ph.D., principal staff scientist in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, explained that researchers have suggested that preventing angiogenesis can prevent tumor cell growth.
She continues to say that although this "angioprevention" may work as a strategy to prevent cancer in healthy individuals, the drugs involved in blocking this process have potential adverse effects, which restricts their use in preventing cancer.
"We know that being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increase in risk for developing certain types of cancer. However, we don't know exactly why. We wanted to investigate how levels of some biomarkers associated with angiogenesis were altered when overweight, sedentary, postmenopausal women enrolled in a research study lost weight and/or became physically active over the course of a year."