Obesity: Increased Cancer Risk
It is well known that obesity comes with many adverse height risks. Along with being the leading cause of diabetes, obesity is linked to an increased risk of cancer. If you are unlucky enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, you are also left with double of the chance of being diagnosed with pancreatic or colon cancer.
Diabetes is a condition in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. It’s not surprising doctors recommend strictly controlling the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in a patient’s diet to help control their blood sugar.
Carbohydrates in the diet break down into glucose, so they have the greatest impact on blood sugars level. The Palaeolithic diet is naturally low in these carbohydrates, keeping blood sugar levels of already diabetic patients steady. Avoiding excessive high and low dips in blood sugar levels in healthy patients is also recommended for preventative care.
Pancreatic and colon cancers aren’t the only cancers you have to worry about if your scales are tipping into the overweight or obese side of things. Obesity is associated with increased risk of breast cancer (in post menopausal women), bowel cancer, womb cancer, oesophageal (food pipe) cancer, kidney cancer and gallbladder cancer.
The percentage increased risk in individual cancers varies greatly. For endometrial and esophageal cancers the increased risk was as risk as 40%.
There are a number of possible mechanisms that could explain the extent of the increased risk of developing cancer. Fat tissue is known to produce estrogen, the more fat your body is storing the more estrogen you are potentially building up. Excess amounts of estrogen have been linked to breast, endometrial and some other cancers.
Fat cells also produce hormones, called adipokines, which either stimulate or inhibit cell growth depending on the adiopokine produced. Lepin is the hormone found most often in obese people. This stimulates cell growth, potentially speeding up any spreading of cancer.
Taking breast cancer as an example, the risk of a woman developing breast cancer is related to the age in which she gains weight. Weight gain during adult life, between the ages of 18 and 50, has been consistently shown to increase risk of breast cancer after menopause. This increased risk is likely to be down to the increased levels of estrogen in obese women. In women of a normal weight when they reach menopause their ovaries stop producing hormones. As obese women have more fat tissue, their estrogen levels are raised leading to more rapid growth of estrogen-responsive breast tumours.
Things to take away from all this: avoid excess calories, carbohydrates and processed foods and keep yourself at a normal healthy weight to avoid increased risk of developing cancer.
As well as being naturally low in carbohydrates, the Palaeolithic lifestyle is known for keeping its followers at a healthy weight, avoiding all of the risks associated with obesity. The Paleo diet or the Primal diet is a modern nutritional plan based on the diet of our ancestors. The diet consists of mostly meat, fish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruit, berries, mushrooms and other foods that would have been available to hunter-gather societies in the Palaeolithic period. After avoiding all processed foods, carbohydrates and refined sugars, obesity is not a worry when following the Paleo lifestyle.
Doctors have calculated that if obesity trends stay as they are, there will be an additional 500,000 cancers in the US by 2030. Additionally, they found that if every adult was to reduce their BMI by 1 percent, this would prevent 100,000 new cases of cancer. A reduction of 1 in 5 in risk, for just a 1% decrease in BMI!