Monday 28 April 2014

Why Does Being Overweight Increase Cancer Risk?

Being overweight increases the risk of a number of diseases. For example, it is well known that being overweight increases the risk of osteoarthritis. In addition, it is well known that the obese have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This increased risk of disease has a common aetiology, in that being overweight is associated with oxidative stress. This oxidative stress can also increase significantly the risk of developing cancer.

Everyone Gets Cancer

Studies show that everyone develops cancer. Autopsies of people who have died from other causes reveal that most have small tumours that have not progressed to full cancer. This is because cells become cancerous all the time, but the body is able to kill these cancer cells using its own immune system defences. In particular, cancer cells can be programmed to commit suicide. In order for this to happen, the body requires conditions that favour healing and regeneration.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is always present in the body. Usually it is kept in check by the presence of antioxidant, which can either be plant derived phytonutrients, vitamins or endogenous enzymes. When diet is poor oxidative stress increases. This tips the balance from a state of healing and regeneration into a state of disease. Under these conditions, diseases like cancer can develop because many disease are initiated by systemic oxidative stress.

Obesity And Oxidative Stress

Obesity is characterised by oxidative stress. The more weight that a person accumulates, the more oxidative stress they are exposed to. This explains the association between being overweight and disease. The exact reason as to why the obese suffer from increased oxidative stress is not fully understood. However, it likely relates to the consumption of a low quality diet high in processed foods and the absence of meaningful levels of antioxidant phytonutrients.

Diet, Obesity And Cancer

Poor diet is a primary driver of obesity. Poor diet also causes oxidative stress. The reason that the obese have an increased risk of cancer may therefore relate to their poor diet, which also makes them fat. In addition, once large amounts of fat have accumulated, fat soluble vitamins and phytonutrient antioxidants are sequestered in the fat tissue. The result is that being overweight exacerbates the oxidative stress of a poor diet, and this increases cancer risk.

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