Womens Health


I didn't know that!

With some 60 percent of adults in the US saying they're worried about developing cancer; it's amazing that only 6 percent recognize that being overweight is a leading contributor to the disease.  So indicates Philip James of the International Obesity Task Force, based in London.

"It's ironic", James notes, "that so few people recognize obesity's role in cancer."  Accumulating data indicate, he says, that "you can probably ascribe over 100.000 new cases of cancer in the United States each year directly to excessive weight" - and that's independent of the role of poor diet or too little exercise.

Most people look at the fat as merely an inert substance that hangs off our bodies, however, George  A. Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. notes that, "fat is a remarkably active substance."  Fat-containing cells secret estrogen, insulin and many other so-called growth factors and as they circulate in the bloodstream certain tissues are signalled to increase in size and divide.

This is all well and good, however…

Obesity fosters cancers responsive to estrogen and such compounds as fat cells secrete.  Many obesity-induced cancers originate in the prostate, colon, breast, uterine endometrium, and kidney, Bray says.

During a woman's reproductive years, her ovaries produce massive amounts of estrogen which fuel the growth of reproductive tissues, like the breast and uterus.  At menopause, the ovaries shut down, and this major source of estrogen dries up, however fat cells continue to produce estrogen.  In postmenopausal women those very cells become the primary source of the hormone.  The more fat there is the more estrogen is shed.  Bray says, "The main reason for increased breast and endrometrial cancer in postmenopausal women is the estrogen production from their increased fat tissues."

You can change course

It's simple science to know that people gain weight from eating more calories than they burn.  To rid the body of excess weight, besides limiting the number of calories consumed, one must rev up the metabolism with exercise.  As a person increases their level of calorie expenditure (exertion through exercise), without increasing the number of calories consumed, the pounds drop off.  Decrease the number of calories consumed, and the pounds melt away even faster.

Risk reduction for breast cancer alone, through exercise, has been between 30 to 40 percent including both people of average weight and those who were overweight or obese. 

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