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Being Over-Weight is the Single Biggest Preventable Cause of Cancer

Being over-weight can cause cancer

We normally think that only heart disease is linked to excess weight. Think again. Extra, unnecessary, excess weight increases the odds of you developing thirteen (13) types breast, colon,, ovarian, and gallbladder. The American Cancer Society states that excess body weight is thought to be responsible for about 8% of all cancers in the United States.

Next to smoking, being over-weight is the single largest, preventable cause of cancer, according to a 2017 study in the British Journal of Cancer. The results of the study, which involved over 43,000 participants being tracked for longer than 12 years, show that adding 4 inches to your waistline increases the risk of 'obesity-related malignancies' by 13%. Bowel cancer risk is increased by 15% with an extra 3 inches added to your hips.

Kathleen M. Egan, PhD, of the British Journal of Cancer says, "for most cancers, there appears to be a linear relationship. The greater the level of obesity, the higher the risk."

prostate cancer is associated with being over-weight

Where you gain the excess weight impacts the type of cancer you are more likely to develop. The risk of cancerous cells is most often linked to abdominal obesity. The deeper, visceral fat is generally the most harmful and is directly linked to the spread and growth of ovarian and colon cancers. Investigators have found that higher levels of abdominal and thigh fat are associated with an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Body fat, known as adipose tissue, plays many roles. Understanding these roles makes the connection between cancer and body fat easier to understand. Known predominately as a form of energy storage, adipose tissue is an endocrine organ which produces hormones as well as growth factors and signaling molecules. They work in different areas including the fat location and throughout the body by means of being circulated in the blood.

"Obesity, particularly visceral fat, leads to physiological changes and a range of effects that contribute to cancer," Egan explains.

It is also believed that obesity-related inflammation plays a role. Obesity is recognized as a chronic inflammatory condition, a contributing factor for cancer formation. In fact, the most common association linking cancer and body fat is chronic inflammation. Adil Akhtar, MD, an oncologist and associate professor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, says that esophageal cancer is an example. Chronic acid reflux from the stomach to the esophagus, especially in overweight people, leads to inflammation and ultimately cancer, Akhtar explained.

Hormonal changes can also increase cancer. The fat tissue produces an excess amount of the hormone estrogen, which has been associated with an increased risk of breast, endometrial, ovarian and some other cancers.

The hormone Leptin regulates appetite, body composition (lean muscle:fat ratio), and energy expenditure. The development of several cancers, including breast, gastrointestinal system, and thryroid, is due to a dysfunction in leptin regulation.

"We don't completely understand how these cancers link to body fat," adds Akhtar. "But there is clearly an overall increased risk of cancer."

Being over-weight and elderly can lead to higher rates of cancer

Another risk factor for cancer is age... unfortunately, this risk is not modifiable. It is believed that aging affects cancer in two ways. One theory is that as you age, the immune system isn't as robust and begins to fail, allowing the cancer cells to proliferate. A second theory suggests that as you age, the mechanism for DNA replication begins to break down, resulting in cell mutations.

The age at which a person gains excess weight can also impact cancer risk. According to the American Cancer Society, women who are overweight as a teenager have a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer before menopause. As well, obesity after menopause is linked to increased breast cancer rates.

Loss of muscle mass associated with aging, combined with obesity (sarcopenia obesity), is considered a particularly high-risk combination. The importance of calorie restriction, aerobic and resistance exercises, as well as protein supplementation can't be overstated as we age.

Since excess body fat is associated with an increased cancer risk, it only makes sense that weight loss should reduce this risk. Some body changes that occur as a result of weight loss suggest it may, indeed, reduce cancer risk. For example, overweight or obese people who intentionally lose weight have reduced levels of certain hormones, such as insulin, estrogens, and androgens that are related to cancer risk. In general, weight loss also reduces biomarkers linked to cancer.

Exercise reduces cancer but it is harder if you are over-weight

Exercise on its own reduces cancer risk, but is not as effective as losing the extra weight. Getting regular, moderate-intensity exercise is especially important in reducing cancer risk in postmenopausal women, according to a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The scientists noted that even if women do not see a change on the scale, regular exercise is shown to reduce visceral fat.

"Living a sedentary lifestyle, eating an unhealthy diet and excessive alcohol intake also account for the burden of cancer by promoting obesity," says Egan.

Lack of physical activity, along with other unhealthy lifestyle habits such as high consumption of red and processed meats, or smoking, all increase cancer risk. Other than possibly reducing cancer risk, losing weight or avoiding weight gain, has several health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Over half of Americans don’t realize that overweight and obesity can increase their risk for cancer. While many things are associated with cancer, avoiding tobacco use and keeping a healthy weight are among the most important things people can do to lower their risk of getting cancer.


To learn more, please read the medical journal articles referring to this product or contact us immediately for a free consultation.

Family Helm Holistic Clinic

Family Helm Clinic

Sylvia Harral opened the Family Helm in 2016 to change the way people heal from serious and life-threatening diseases and conditions.  


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