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Being overweight causes cancer

Overweight man's waist is measured by doctor

If you haven’t heard already then there is a great deal of press and momentum growing around obesity and cancer – the links are real and the evidence is present.

Any excess fat int he body may have harmful effects like producing hormones and growth factors that effect the way our cells work – this we know, But did you know that this raises the risk of many diseases including cancer – evidence has been produced to prove that 1 in 20 cancer cases in the UK are linked to being overweight or obesity.

We’ve taken some of the data below from he Cancer research UK site to best explain the risks.

Which cancers are affected?

Research has shown that many types of cancer are more common in people who are overweight or obese, including cancers of the breast (in women after the menopause), bowel, womb, oesophageal (food pipe), pancreatic, kidney, liver, upper stomach (gastric cardia), gallbladder, ovarian, thyroid, myeloma (a type of blood cancer), and meningioma (a type of brain tumour).

This list includes 2 of the most common types of cancer – breast and bowel cancers – and 3 of the hardest to treat – pancreatic, oesophageal and gallbladder cancers.

Image showing the types of cancers caused by obesity

How could obesity lead to cancer?

It’s very clear that there is a link between cancer and obesity. But it’s still not completely understood how exactly obesity causes cancer. Research so far has identified three leading explanations. It’s helpful to start by knowing what fat is, and what it does in the body.

Fat in the body has two main functions. It acts as a store of energy. And it’s constantly spreading information and instructions to the rest of your body. These messages affect things like cell growth, chemical reactions in cells, and the body’s reproductive cycles.

So fat doesn’t just sit there doing nothing. It’s active, telling your cells what to do. And if there is too much fat in the body, then the signals it sends around the body can cause damage. It’s likely that this is how obesity raises the risk of cancer.

  • Growth hormones– too much body fat can cause levels of insulin and other growth factors to rise, which can tell cells to divide more often. This raises the chance that cells will change and lead to cancer.
  • Inflammation– when there are more fat cells in the body, specialised immune cells go to the area, possibly to remove dead and dying fat cells. They release a cocktail of chemicals called cytokines, which can lead to inflammation. This makes cells divide faster, and when this happens over a long time it can raise the risk of cancer.
  • Sex hormones– after the menopause, oestrogen made by fat cells can make cells divide faster in the breasts and womb (two of the cancer types most closely linked to obesity), increasing the risk of cell faults and cancer.

Belly fat has harmful effects

When too much fat is carried around the belly, it can do even more damage. So-called ‘apple’ shapes are linked to bowel, kidney, oesophageal, pancreatic, and breast cancers.

It isn’t clear exactly why this is, but it could be to do with how quickly certain chemicals from fat can get into the blood.

So how can FreshFit UK help?

Well simply we help you get active, enjoy being active and get you in an environment where being active is normal and fun. We’re not nutritionists but we have one write for us and we have healthy eating recipe books written for us monthly – you will have access to that if you’re a FreshFitter.

We encourage a fun and engaging outdoor fitness ethos which will support you in your weight loss goals, support the mental process in making a lifestyle change and being amongst friendly and welcoming people as well as supporting a nutritional balance.

We’re not going to try and force some new fangled fad style regime change on you – we provide high quality exercise in a down to earth way with the same approach to how we encourage a fitter healthier “whole you”.

Our introductory offer is ten session for £15.00 – bring a friend or family member and you’ll know someone immediately, if you can’t do that then you’ll know someone by the end of the session guaranteed.