Weight loss during menopause is associated with a lower risk of endometrial cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

Endometrial cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting women in the United States, and is highly associated with obesity. The purpose of this study was to determine whether weight loss can affect endometrial cancer risk.

This analysis evaluated data from 36,794 women age 50 to 79 included in the Women’s Health Initiative observational study. Body weight and body mass index (BMI) were recorded at baseline and at year 3. Patient-reported questionnaires were used to evaluate weight loss intentionality at 3 years.

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The mean follow-up time was 11.4 years, during which 566 women developed endometrial cancer.

Compared with women who had stable body weight (within ± 5%), women who gained at least 5% of their body weight were significantly more likely to develop endometrial cancer according to a multivariate analysis (hazard ratio [HR], 1.12 (95% CI, 0.92-1.38).  

Women who lost at least 5% of body weight had a 29% decreased risk of developing endometrial cancer compared with those who maintained their weight (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.54-0.95).

This benefit was attributed to women who intentionally lost weight (HR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.42-0.86) vs those who did not (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.62-1.41). A greater decrease in risk of developing endometrial cancer was observed among obese women who intentionally lost weight (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2; HR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.25-0.78).

A limitation of the study was that body weight change after year 3 — despite the mean follow up of over 11 years — was not included in the analysis.

RELATED: Obesity-driven Endometrial Cancer Raises Need for Intervention

The authors concluded that “these findings should motivate programs for weight loss in obese postmenopausal women.”


  1. Luo J, Chlebowski RT, Hendryx M, et al. Intentional weight loss and endometrial cancer risk. J Clin Oncol. 2017 Feb 6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.70.5822 [Epub ahead of print]