Moderate Physical Activity May Reduce Chronic Disease Risk in Older Women. (Research Notebook)

FDA Consumer, March-April 2003 | Go to article overview

Moderate Physical Activity May Reduce Chronic Disease Risk in Older Women. (Research Notebook)


Regular, moderate-intensity exercise may be critically important for postmenopausal women who want to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease and other diseases, a new study indicates.

Exercise effectively reduces intra-abdominal fat, a hidden risk factor for many chronic illnesses, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

"Even if a woman who exercises regularly doesn't see the benefits of dramatic weight loss on her scale, our results indicate that she can feel confident that she is improving her health ...," says Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., director of Fred Hutchinson's Prevention Center, and lead author of the study.

Intra-abdominal, or visceral, fat increases the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The fat also can raise insulin levels, which promotes the growth of cancer cells.

People with high levels of intra-abdominal fat may not even know it, McTiernan says, because it is hidden, deposited around organs within the abdomen. "Most women don't know about intra-abdominal fat, but they should, since it is the most clinically significant type of fat and it's where women tend to store fat after menopause."

The only accurate way to determine the presence of intra-abdominal fat is with imaging procedures such as CT or MRI scans. …

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