If you are anything like me you already know that being overweight is not good for our bodies but taking the step from knowing that and doing something about it, is where we fall down. But I recently had the good fortune to go out with a team of scientists and dieticians involved in cancer research and to listen to them present research evidence about how fat is involved in cancer. It was a shocking revelation to me but also an empowering one.
Now I used to think as fat in two ways…yes linked to problems with diabetes and cardiac disease, even issues with joints, but really my issue with fat was more it’s impact on my ability to buy a nice pair of skinny jeans, or straight skirt or how it influenced whether I wanted to peel off when on holidays. Knowing that, was I really doing something about it….? No!
Then came that shocking discovery that there is more than one type of fat, and while one is just involved in that “wonderful” padding, the other fat, called visceral fat, you know the one that sits on your belly, is actually very metabolically active and pumps out hormones and chemicals which can promote cancer growth and dramatically increase your risk of getting cancer. That was a shocking discovery for me, I did not know that this fat that sets up shop on your belly was like a hormone pump and those hormones were dramatically increasing my cancer risk. So now the stakes were higher. It wasn’t about looking better but getting better. Working to decrease those bad chemicals going around my body.
But there was good news too, well certainly empowering news anyway. And that was that just a 10% weight loss would see these dangerous hormones/chemical levels decrease immediately. And it was the belly fat that is lost first (when you start to eat better and exercise more). The dangerous bad fat goes first, so even when you can’t immediately see it on the scales, or in your clothes, you know it’s worth sticking with it because you are taking a huge step to decreasing your cancer risk.
The evidence doesn’t lie – there is a proven link between body fatness, inactivity and certain cancers. Being overweight and inactive accounts for 1/4 to 1/3 of worldwide cases of colon, kidney, oesophageal, breast and endometrial cancer (WHO IARC, 2013). In fact, up to 71% of oesophageal, 47% Colorectal, 38% Breast, 32% Kidney and 9% Advanced Prostate can be prevented by appropriate food nutrition, physical activity and body fatness.
So, the data is clear it is time to tackle that belly (visceral) fat and good nutrition and more physical activity is the way to go. Visceral fat is a highly active metabolic organ secreting a vast array of hormones and growth factors involved in insulin resistance, appetite control and systemic inflammation. This inflammation can lead to cancer but we can do something about it. It’s not just sitting there to annoy us, but in a way, it’s poisoning our system and therefore we should do something about it.
It all sounded a bit scary at first but ultimately this information became empowering. Knowing that just 10% weight loss could have an enormous impact and the bad fat goes first was, for me anyway, motivating. I can do something for my own health and it doesn’t mean I am trying to match some idea of what all people should look like, as depicted on the cover of some magazine. I can be just a healthier version of me.
That’s why I now know that 10% could make all the difference…. for all of us!
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