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The risks of Belly Fat

The risks of Belly Fat

Expanding waistline linked to an increased risk of cancer

The increase in waist circumference carries similar risks for developing cancer as raised body mass index (BMI). 

A recent meta-analysis has shown that both can be indicators for increasing the risk of obesity-related cancers (defined as: postmenopausal female breast, colorectal, lower esophagus, cardia stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, endometrium, ovary, and kidney).

Researchers analyzed data from several European studies of more than 43,419 adults, who were then followed up for 12 years. The average age at which participants entered into the study was 63 years old.

High body mass index (BMI) is already linked to an increased risk of 11 different cancers

Pooling all the studies, revealed that for each 11 cm increase in waist circumference, the overall risk of getting 1 of 10 types of obesity-related cancers increased by 13% 

The risk was higher for colorectal cancer, at 21%.

For women who had not used hormone replacement therapy, the risk for postmenopausal breast cancer was 21%.

The findings of this meta-analysis are in line with other research, which shows excess weight increases the risk of certain cancers.

The lead author, Heinz Freisling, said:

Our findings show that both BMI and where body fat is carried on the body can be "ideal indicators" of obesity-related cancer risk. Specifically, fat carried around the waist may be important for certain cancers, but requires further investigation. Overall, our results underscore the importance of avoiding excess body fatness for cancer prevention irrespective of age and gender.



Freisling H, Arnold M, Soerjomataram I, O'Doherty MG, Ordóñez-Mena JM, Bamia C, Kampman E, Leitzmann M, Romieu I, Kee F, Tsilidis K, Tjønneland A, Trichopoulou A, Boffetta P, Benetou V, Bueno-de-Mesquita HBA, Huerta JM, Brenner H, Wilsgaard T, Jenab M. Comparison of general obesity and measures of body fat distribution in older adults in relation to cancer risk: meta-analysis of individual participant data of seven prospective cohorts in Europe. Br J Cancer.  2017;116(11):1486-1497. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2017.106. PMID: 28441380

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