Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult your own healthcare provider.
Some info below taken from:
Cancer Helpline 800-227-2345
In April of this year, in the Health section of the Washington Post, an article was posted warning about the links between being overweight and developing cancer.
The article stated, “Being obese and overweight — long implicated in heart disease and diabetes — has been associated in recent years with an increased risk of getting at least 13 types of cancer, including stomach, pancreatic, colorectal and liver malignancies, as well as postmenopausal breast cancer.
Researchers at the American Cancer Society say excess body weight is linked to about 8 percent of all cancers in the United States and about 7 percent of cancer deaths.”
And more, “Compared with people of normal weight, obese patients are more likely to see their cancer come back and have a lower likelihood of survival.”
Carrying too much body fat is assessed primarily by body mass index, which is based on one’s height and weight. It is estimated that about seven in every 10 people in the United States are overweight (see link above for JAMA Internal Medicine).
For persons 20 years and older, below are the generally accepted cut-off scores. Cancer.org provides us with online calculators.
• Underweight: BMI is less than 18.5
• Normal weight: BMI is 18.5 to 24.9
• Overweight: BMI is 25 to 29.9
• Obese: BMI is 30 or more
The more body fat one is carrying, the higher goes the risk of cancer. In other words, looking at the BMI scores above, there seems to be greater risks at the obese level than at the overweight level.
Cancer.org suggests that the ways in which being overweight may increase the risks of certain cancers is complex and not fully understood in all cases. Nevertheless, research is suggesting that carrying too much body fat may affect:
• Immune system function and inflammation
• Levels of certain hormones, such as insulin, estrogens androgens
• Factors regulating cell growth
• Proteins influencing how the body uses certain hormones
Although still limited, the early results of the research on how losing excess body fat may help to prevent cancer are showing that reducing body fat is, in fact, related to reducing cancer risk. This is especially seen with breast cancer after menopause and prostate cancer. How reducing body fat helps may be due to the changes in the body that occur with fat loss. An example is how certain hormones, for example those mentioned above, change as body fat is lost.
Medical researchers publishing in the New England Journal of Medicine (see link above) concluded that: “Increased body weight was associated with increased death rates for all cancers combined and for cancers at multiple specific [body] sites … we estimate that 90,000 deaths due to cancer could be prevented each year in the United States if men and women could maintain normal weight.”
The smallest weight loss has health benefits. The hassle is worthwhile.
Callie Wight is a California state-licensed registered nurse with a Master of Arts in psychology