Extra Fat Means Extra Cancer Risk
This was an important topic in one of my favorite medical resources, Nutrition Action Health Letter. As a twenty year cancer survivor and a doctor for fifty years, I am joining the ranks of many other healthcare professionals in counseling patients at all ages to stay lean. The incidence of nearly all cancers increases as the extra fat around your middle increases. As we teach in our Dr. Sears Wellness Institute Coaching Program, “lean” does not mean skinny, which is often not healthy, but it means having the right amount of body fat for your body type. We teach that “L.E.A.N.” stands for Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition – the four tools to stay lean.
Like many healthcare professionals, I used to be the wimpy doctor, “Well, you are a little overweight, but no problem….” Cancer caused me to care about giving patients better advice. Here are the reasons why excess body fat can lead to excess cancer risk:
1. It’s the hormones
Extra body fat, especially abdominal fat, increases the blood levels of estrogen in both males and females. The reason? Fat cells make extra estrogen. Certain cancers, especially breast and uterine, are fueled by high levels of estrogen. This is one of the biggest reasons why “overfat” women have higher rates of female cancers. (The correct term is “overfat,” mainly meaning excess abdominal fat, rather than “overweight.” Some very muscular persons are so-called “overweight,” but not at increased risk of cancer.)
2. Insulin spikes
An important point we make in our newest book, The Dr. Sears T5 Wellness Plan: Makeover your Mind and Body, Five Changes in Five Weeks, is the two words “insulin spikes” or “sugar spikes” are cancer feeders. Excess body fat increases the blood level of the cancer-feeder insulin.
3. Pains in the gut
People with excess abdominal fat have an increased incidence of GER, gastroesophageal reflux, or heartburn, which increases the risk of esophageal cancers.
4. Waist size is more important than scale weight
Abdominal fat, what you grab on the outside and what increases on the inside that you don’t see (called “visceral fat”), is one of the highest triggers of every illness you don’t want to get, including type II diabetes, cancer, coronary artery disease, and Alzheimer’s.