A new research, which is the first of its kind, led by Dr Heinz Freisling, a scientist at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC-WHO), has found that carrying excess fat around the middle part of the body could be an indicator of cancer risk.
Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to some types of cancer including pancreatic, colon, ovarian, liver and breast.
The study combined data from around 43,000 participants who had been followed for an average of twelve years and more than 1,600 people were diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer.
It was found that three different measurements of body size – BMI, waist circumference, and waist to hip ratio – all predicted similar obesity-related cancer risk in older adults.
The study show that adding about 11cm to the waistline increased the risk of obesity related cancers by 13%. Adding about 8 cm to the hips was linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer by 15%.
It was found that carrying excess body fat can change the levels of sex hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone. It can also cause the levels of insulin to rise and lead to inflammation. All these, being factors that have been associated with increased cancer risk.
As much as there is no one guaranteed way to prevent diseases, having a healthy weight will significantly reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases. Just by making simple changes in your eating and exercise habits, you can not only achieve a healthy weight but also maintain it.