Fat loss in different body compartments changed biomarkers associated with breast cancer risk, but overall body fat loss induced the most favorable changes, according to a study being published in Endorine-Related Cancer.1

Abdominal fat is associated with some chronic diseases and premature mortality independent of total body fat. Intra-abdominal fat, not subcutaneous fat, is particularly associated with metabolic diseases. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of abdominal fat on biomarkers for breast cancer risk.

The study evaluated data from the SHAPE-2 trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01511276), in which 243 overweight, postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to lose a predetermined amount of body weight by diet alone or diet plus exercise.

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The mean age was 60 and body mass index was 29 kg/m2. Participants were insufficiently active, not using sex hormones, and not diagnosed with cancer or diabetes.

This analysis evaluated serum sex hormones, inflammatory markers, total body fat measured by DEXA scan, and intra-abdominal and subcutaneous abdominal fat measured by MRI at baseline and 16 weeks.

Linear regression analysis was used to determine associations between changes in body fat depots and biomarkers.

Total body fat loss was associated with the greatest improvement in breast cancer risk–related biomarkers including free estradiol, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), free testosterone, and leptin.

Intra-abdominal fat loss was associated with a reduction in free testosterone, high-sensitivity C-reaction protein (hsCRP), and leptin, but an increase in SHBG.

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Subcutaneous abdominal fat substantially reduced free testosterone.

According to the authors, the study found that “in healthy overweight postmenopausal women that fat loss at different body locations was associated with changes in different types of biomarkers, known to be related to breast cancer risk.”


  1. van Gemert WA, Monninkhof EM, May AM, et al. Association between changes in fat distribution and biomarkers for breast cancer. Endocrine Rel Cancer. In press.