In postmenopausal women, particularly younger women with obesity, intentional weight loss reduces the risk for developing endometrial cancer, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown.1

Obesity is an established risk factor for endometrial cancer; however, the impact of weight loss on endometrial cancer risk in postmenopausal women is unclear. Therefore, researchers sought to assess the association between intentional weight loss and endometrial cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) observational study.

The WHI study enrolled 36,794 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years. At enrollment, researchers measured patients’ body weight and calculated body mass indices at baseline and at year 3.

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Investigators classified weight change during that 3-year period as stable (change within 5%), loss (change of 5% or more), or gain (change of 5% or more), and characterized weight change as intentional or unintentional based on self-report at year 3.

Average follow-up was 11.4 years. Using medical record review, the investigators confirmed that 566 patients developed endometrial cancer during that time.

After adjusting for multiple variables, researchers found that women with weight loss had a 29% lower risk of endometrial cancer compared with those who had stable weight (hazard ratio [HR], 0.71; 95% CI, 0.54-0.95).

Among obese women in particular, intentional weight loss was associated with a 56% reduced risk for developing endometrial cancer vs those with stable weight (HR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.25-0.78)

In contrast, women who experienced weight gain of 10 pounds or greater, especially those who had never used hormones, had a higher endometrial cancer risk than those with stable weight.

The findings ultimately suggest that clinicians should consider encouraging participation in weight loss programs among obese postmenopausal women to lower the risk of endometrial cancer.


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]