Eating a healthy diet, being more active and maintaining a healthy weight are the most important ways to protect yourself against cancer, after not smoking.
There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of 12 different types of cancer:
- Breast (post-menopausal)
- Mouth, pharynx and larynx
- Oesophagus (adenocarcinoma)
- Prostate (advanced)
- Stomach (cardia)
How does body weight affect cancer risk?
Fat in the body (adipose tissue) is metabolically active and sends out chemical signals to the rest of the body, helping to control processes such as growth and reproductive cycles. Because fat cells have the ability to influence biological processes in the body, excess fat can have a negative impact on health. Research shows there are several processes contributing to the link between body weight and cancer.
For example, fat cells release hormones such as oestrogen. Excess oestrogen can increase the risk of some cancers, like breast and womb cancer, and promote their growth.
Storing too much fat can cause insulin resistance (where insulin becomes less effective at controlling blood sugar levels), which encourages the body to produce growth factors. High levels of these can promote the growth of cancer cells.
Body fat also stimulates a chronic inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation can promote the growth of cancer by encouraging cancer cells to divide. This inflammatory response may underpin the wide variety of different cancers that have been linked to obesity.
Weight matters: keeping healthy in an unhealthy world
This new guide looks at the individual and environmental factors that affect our weight. It’s full of practical, everyday tips and advice to help combat the obesogenic environment we currently live in. It’s an ideal guide for your patients or clients who want to either lose weight or to just stop the pounds from creeping on.