Possible Clue to Obesity-Cancer Link

glucose_cancerWe know there is strong evidence that obesity is linked to some cancers including pancreatic, esophageal, colorectal, and breast (post-menopausal). Now research may be adding clarity to a reason why: Chronic disturbances to levels of insulin and glucose in the body may be the culprits behind obesity-linked cancers, according to the new study.  A poor diet and sedentary lifestyle contribute to increased body fat and produces an overall environment within the body that is conducive to cancer development. “Insulin is responsible for regulating blood glucose, which serves as a fuel for cell growth. Obese individuals are more likely to have higher concentrations of both insulin and glucose, an undesirable condition that may promote cancer cells to grow, multiply, and spread rapidly, as compared to individuals who do not have these abnormalities,” said study author Niyati Parekh, a NYU Steinhardt researcher.

The study looked at offspring generation data from the renowned Framingham Heart Study, a 60-year research study initially seeking to identify the common factors/characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease. The study has significantly useful information because it followed three generations of participants, periodically gathering demographic, medical, diet, blood and physical history. By the conclusion of the study, researchers had identified 787 cancer cases related to obesity: 217 breast cancer cases, 136 colorectal cancer cases and 219 prostate cancer cases. After taking into account other factors such as age, sex, alcohol and tobacco use and body mass index (BMI), impaired fasting glucose increased the risk of obesity-related cancer by 27 percent.

Parekh says that the findings are promising in that they may contribute to the eventual development of guidelines and prevention strategies for cancers related to obesity. “Alleviating disturbances in insulin and glucose may work as a cancer control tool in the context of the nation’s obesity problem”, she said.

The findings were published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.

Related Reading: Cancer Drug May Reduce Fat Mass Drastically

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