Body Fat Raises Cancer Risk
New research findings show that extra body fat doesn't just weigh you down. Scientists now have evidence that too many fat cells prompt ongoing reactions in the body that may increase cancer risk.
A recent study in the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University found excess fat may alter the body's basic functioning in ways that raise risk for cancer and other diseases.
Research had already shown that obesity boosts levels of hormones such as estrogen, for example, which increase risk for breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Too much body fat, especially in the abdomen, also increases insulin resistance, priming the body for diabetes.
Now, recent findings suggest that fat deposits especially around the waist, may influence the body's inflammatory response so that risk for colon cancer is higher.
Inflammation is the body's first response to infection or injury. It's essential to healing, but it can go the other way. Researchers now suspect that chronic low-level inflammation of body tissues underlies a lot of disease processes. How does this happen?
There are substances called cytokines that are part of the body's inflammation response to help with fighting infection and healing wounds. Cytokines are made by white blood cells, but fat cells can make cytokines too.
These substances also help with wound repair by stimulating tissue growth. Research suggests that when the body has an oversupply of fat cells, those cells release too many cytokines. This boosts the body's inflammatory response and causes damage to cells and their DNA."
Where there is genetic damage plus stimulation for cells to grow, the chance of cells growing out of control and becoming cancer is increased. We all have cancer in our body at all times. The role of the immune system is to fight those cancer cells. However, when the immune system is working overtime dealing with the cleaning out of the fat in the system, it doesn’t have enough resources to fight the cancer cells.
A previous study showed that people who were obese, 30% over their normal body weight had a higher risk of colon cancer. People who were diabetic had increased risk.
Some cancers are known to be associated with persistent inflammation that's related to chronic infection. For example, people infected with one of the viruses that cause hepatitis are more susceptible to liver cancer. People with inflammatory bowel disease have above-average rates of colon cancer.
The idea that fat cells could be actively involved in promoting inflammation is a relatively new one. "There is more to being fat than carrying around excess weight. People should begin thinking of excess body fat as actively harmful to their health." When you study the human body, even as remotely as the way it is taught in schools, it stands to reason that excess fat is not a natural condition for the body. Excess fat will strain all the systems, being digestive, respiratory, the skeleton, etc.
The good news is that excess weight can be managed. Even walking every day as little as outside of the house and around the block, is a great starting point to healing, by sending a message of health to the brain and the body.
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About the Author: Dr Laurence Magne
Cancer Free For Life
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