Weight gain in older women increases cancer risk

Boston: Weight gain after the menopause may mean an increased risk of breast cancer, according to a new US study.

Researchers at the Brigham Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, examined the links between weight gain and the risk of breast cancer among post-menopausal women. They discovered that weightloss after the menopause lowers levels of circulating oestrogen, the hormone that elevates cancer risk, in women. It has already been proven that weight gain in earlier life also raises cancer risk.

The researchers examined changes in weight in two different life periods – after the age of 18 and after menopause over a follow up period of 24 years. The study involved a total of 87, 143 postmenopausal women, aged 30 to 55 years, who were followed up for up to 26 years to analyse weight change since age 18. Weight change since menopause was assessed among 49,514 women. The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Women who gained about 55 pounds or more since age 18 were at a 45 percent increased risk of breast cancer, compared with those who maintained their weight, with a stronger association among women who have never taken postmenopausal hormones.
Women who gained about 22 pounds or more since menopause were at an 18 percent increased risk of breast cancer. Those who lost about 22 pounds or more since menopause (and kept the weight off) and had never used postmenopausal hormones were at a 57 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those who simply maintained their weight. The researchers concluded that 15 percent of the study’s breast cancer cases may be attributable to weight gain of 4.4 pounds or more since age 18 and 4.4 percent of the cases may be attributable to weight gain of 4.4 pounds or more since menopause.

Diet sugars may pile on the pounds, says top psychologist

Swansea: Artificial sweetners, do not help slimmers to loose weight, says a top medical experts.

Professor David Benton, a psychologist from Swansea University in Wales, said those who use artificial sweetners are more likely to eat more of other foods and eat even more calories.

In a report in the magazine, Nutrition Research he says slimmers would be better off cutting out fat. He says people may compensate for the lack of sugar by eating more of other foods, which may have even more calories. Professor Benton, a psychologist who has written a report in the journal Nutrition Research Review, said people trying to lose weight and keep it off would be better reducing fat intake rather than calories in sugar.

Professor Benton, whose report was partly funded by the sugar industry,said it was questionable as to whether artificial sweetners were helpful in the long term.

A few extra pounds make you look youthful

Copenhagen: A little extra weight can make you look up to seven years younger, according to researchers in Denmark.

In addition a happy family life and plenty of money are also contribute to better ageing, says a study that examined the effects of lifestyle, medical history and diet on the way that men and women age.

The duty by scientists at the University of Southern, also discovered that a happy marriage can bring special benefits for a woman – making her look almost two years younger by the time she reaches middle age. Marital harmony can make men, in turn look up to a year younger. When there are children, fathers tend to look a year younger.

Having children has no perceived effect on a woman’s looks – possibly because women are more likely to take charge of the childcare – and the effects disappear in families with more than four children.

Belonging to a higher social class – with both looking up to four years younger than their true age.

Professor Kaare Christensen, lead author from the University of Southern Denmark, said the study revealed that high social status, low levels of depression and marriage were linked with a more youthful appearance.

The study, being published in Ae and Ageing, asked a group of nurses to guess the ages of 1,826 identical and non-identical twins, all in their seventies, after looking at photographs of their faces.

Scientists then compared the average age estimates with environmental factors such as marital status, parenthood, class and lifestyle choices.

They concluded that while looking young is an indicator of good health, looking old for one’s age is conversely associated with increased mortality.

Heavy drinking was found to put a year on the faces of both sexes along with chronic asthma, diabetes and regularly taking painkillers. Over-exposure to the sun was seen to add 1.3 years to a woman’s perceived age while depression made women look 3.9 years older and men 2.4 years older. Though 20 cigarettes a day for 20 years was found to add only a year of extra wrinkles to men and half that to women.

Contrary to popular expectation, however, putting on weight with age was found to have a positive effect on keeping a youthful appearance.

For men, adding two points to their body mass index can take a year off their age while women can benefit from the same effect by adding seven points to their BMI.

These findings support previous studies which show that non-genetic factors account for approximately 40 per cent of the variations in a person’s perceived age.

Professor Christensen added: ‘Our study confirms previous findings of a negative influence of sun exposure, smoking and a low BMI index on facial ageing.

‘It is a lot more dangerous looking one year older than being one year older.

‘If you are not depressed, not a smoker and not too skinny, you are basically doing well.’ Combining the various factors can explain why some people, for example those in their forties, can look substantially younger than their peers.

According to the study, a married woman with a high social status, who has not spent a lot of time in the sun, could look at least seven years younger than a woman who is single, of a low social class and has spent excessive time soaking up harmful rays.

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