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New study confirms link between obesity and cancer

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While it is widely known that obesity is an epidemic in countries such as America and Mexico, previous research focused on body mass index (BMI) as a factor in measuring links to cancer and other diseases.

On December 4, a study was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism that used radiographic imagery to analyze the connection between fat tissue and cancer. The study analyzed the fat tissue of 2,519 middle-aged adults, and followed them for 13 years to see if they developed cancer.

According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Rachel Murphy, “After controlling for risk factors we found that greater fat confers risk for cancer in older men and women. For example, women with more overall fat mass and more visceral fat had a higher risk of developing cancer. Men with the most visceral fat had a nearly 3 times higher risk of many types of cancer (esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, kidney, thyroid, and gallbladder) compared to men with little visceral fat. When we controlled for BMI, the risk for visceral fat was strengthened."

The implications of this study reveal that it is not only important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but that actual body fat also increases the risk of developing cancer in later years. This could mean that people who got fit at some point in their life but have leftover fat tissue may have additional cancer risks, as will people who workout occasionally and are overweight but otherwise healthy. The most likely impact that will result from these findings is that further medical emphasis will be given to the elimination of fat, rather than just the promotion of an overall healthy lifestyle.

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Obesity Facts & Stats:

Reference for the study: Rachel A. Murphy, Taylor F. Bureyko, Iva Miljkovic, Jane A. Cauley, Suzanne Satterfield, Trisha F. Hue, Heidi D. Klepin, Steven R. Cummings, Anne B. Newman, Tamara B. Harris.Association of total adiposity and computed tomographic measures of regional adiposity with incident cancer risk: a prospective population-based study of older adults1. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2013; : 1 DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0360



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