One cancer in five, 20%, in the United States is due to carrying extra body fat, according to the Cancer Prevention and Control at the University Of Colorado Cancer Center.
Millions of Americans have stopped smoking because of the risk of lung cancer. Researchers are not finding that extra body fat causes just as great a risk of getting some kind of cancer.
Over the last twenty years, there has been increasing evidence that extra body fat increases the risk for common cancer. According to researchers, how that happens varies depending on the specific cancer.
For liver cancer, research demonstrates that the fat cells infiltrate into the live and cause local inflammation which drives cancer in the liver.
The increased risk of esophageal cancer is referred to as a “mechanical problem.” Extra body fat increases pressure in the abdomen which causes reflux which damages the esophagus, opening the door for cancer.
The extra body fat that women carry increases their estrogen levels. Increased estrogen levels have good consequences and bad consequences. It increases the risk for breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
A study conducted on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus studied 700 women who had survived breast cancer. The goal was to determine if intentional weight loss might reverse the risk of a recurrence of the disease.
Half of the women who participated in the study were put in weight loss groups, the other half were in a group that only received weight loss advice. The women in the weight loss group on average dropped 7% body fat. Their estrogen level also dropped to a healthy level.
The hope is to extend the study to 2,500 women with breast cancer to determine whether this intentional weight loss, which is good for overall health, might also reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Researchers are confident that it will.
Researchers believe that weight loss should be a standard practice in oncology care for breast cancer survivors.
For some cancers researchers are uncertain why extra body fat increases cancer risk, kidney cancer for example, falls into that category.