Top cancer researchers and scientists are gearing up for a nationwide study involving thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer to see if weight loss can stop the disease from returning. A June 28 article in the Houston Chronicle reports that the National Cancer Institute study, which is still in its early stages, is recruiting over 3,200 women from across the U.S. and Canada who are overweight and have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors plan to put some of these women into a weight loss program, while others will be in a control group. What researchers hope to see is that sustained weight loss leads to slow or no growth in cancer. Many doctors have long thought that weight loss helps women who are fighting breast cancer, a disease that will infect 1 in 8 American women in their lifetime. “We have been telling women to do this for years, but we don’t really have definitive proof,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Jennifer Ligibel said. The study could provide that definitive proof and, according to Dr. Ligibel, add a new tool to the arsenal of millions of women around the world who are combating the deadly disease. The study is considered the first of its kind. In the past, studies have only been conducted to examine the opposite phenomenon: how obesity affects a woman’s fight with breast cancer. Over 80 studies involving 200,000 women indicate that a woman who is obese when diagnosed has a 41% higher chance of dying than someone who is of average weight. Another one of the study’s researchers, Dr. Pamela Goodwin, says that the physical repercussions of being seriously overweight, such as higher insulin and glucose levels, inflammation, and an increase in certain proteins, are all factors that fuel cancer growth. It is believed that the multimillion-dollar study will effectively show that weight loss can reverse these factors and provide new hope for women facing breast cancer.