How Carrying Extra Weight Can Increase Your Risk For Cancer

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We are all guilty of making resolutions for the new year that we don't keep. Even well-intentioned changes are often harder to implement into your daily routine than expected. While losing weight may be a common goal, I recommend it for reasons that have nothing to do with appearance. Many people don't realize that research shows obesity is directly linked to cancer. Statistics now reveal that 1 in every 20 cancer patients is suffering from cancer due to obesity.

If you haven't made the decision to get to a healthy weight, it's not too late. Start today. Here is everything you need to know to combat obesity.

What Is Obesity?

Obesity occurs when an individual has become so overweight due to the accumulation of body fat and their body mass index (BMI) falls between 25 and 29.9. If an individual has extra fat in their body, it can have many harmful effects such as producing growth factors and hormones that affect the way our cells work. According to research, obesity is known to cause the following types of cancer: breast, womb, bowel, esophageal, pancreatic, kidney, liver cancer, upper stomach, gallbladder, ovarian, thyroid, myeloma (blood cancer), and meningioma (brain tumor).

A study that used NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data revealed that an estimate of 50,500 women (around 7 percent) and 34,000 men (around 4 percent) suffered from cancer due to obesity in the United States in 2007, and this number is expected to reach 500,000 new cases by 2030.

The Link Between Obesity and Cancer

You may be wondering, how exactly does extra weight lead to cancer? While research is still evolving, the four most common factors include:

  1. Excess amounts of estrogen: Fat tissue is known to produce estrogen and when there is excess fat tissue, then high levels of estrogen are produced, which is known to increase the risk of endometrial, breast, and a few other cancers.
  2. Hyperinsulinemia: Obese people are likely to have increased levels of insulin and insulinlike growth factor-1 in their bloodstream, which is known as hyperinsulinemia. This condition is known to cause the growth of certain tumors.
  3. Tumor growth regulators: Fat cells are considered to have effects on tumor growth regulators such as AMP-activated protein kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR).
  4. Subacute Inflammation: Obese people may have subacute or chronic low-level inflammation. This is known to increase the risk of cancer.
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How to Prevent Obesity

Prevention is always better than a cure. According to research, if every individual was to bring about a reduction of just 1 percent in their BMI (which is equivalent to about 1 kg), it could cause the prevention of nearly 100,000 new cases of cancer.

To avoid obesity, it is best to always keep a tab on your weight by eating healthy foods, consuming smaller amounts, and staying active with regular exercise. The best way to reduce weight is to eat a natural diet, drink a lot of water, and exercise, which also helps tone your body (old jeans, here we come!)

Let's set a goal for 2017 to lose 5 to 10 percent of our body weight! We guarantee you will not only be healthier and feel better but also decrease your chances of developing cancer.

Written by Dr. Hannah Luu and Laura Bourdeanu

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