Researchers uncover how and why obesity can lead to cancer
[Jan 11, 2022: University of Bergen]
Researchers at University of Bergen have demonstrated that lipids associated with obesity make cancer cells more aggressive and likely to form actual tumors. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)
Cancer is caused by genetic changes that break down normal constraints on cell growth. It is known that obesity and overweight increases the risk of developing cancer, but the question until now has been why? Now, researchers at University of Bergen have demonstrated that lipids associated with obesity make cancer cells more aggressive and likely to form actual tumors.
The researchers have discovered that the changed environment surrounding the cancerous cell, from a normal weight body to an overweight or obese body, pushes the cancer cell to adapt.
“This means that even in the absence of new gene mutations, obesity increases the risk that tumors will form”, says associate professor Nils Halberg.
Obesity is the cause of approximately 500,000 new cancer cases each year – a number that is expected to grow as obesity rates continues to increase.
“To scientifically dissect how these two complicated diseases interact has been extremely interesting and rewarding. Especially as this new understanding will enable researchers to design improved treatments for obese cancer patients”, Halberg adds.
Cancer and obesity: What you can do?
One of the most important things you can do to decrease your cancer risk is maintain a healthy weight, Basen-Engquist says.
There are steps you can take to prevent obesity.
Stay active. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week.
Eat a healthy diet. Fill at least 2/3 of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, fruit, whole grains or legumes (beans and peas), and 1/3 or less with animal protein.
If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two per day if you are a man.
Get plenty of rest. Fatigue can make you want to eat more, and make unhealthy choices.
Being obese or overweight hurts your body’s ability to work well, Basen-Engquist says. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for reducing your risk for cancer.
The study was published in Nature Communications on January 10th, 2022. Read the article in full here.
For more science and technology stories check out our New Discoveries section at The Brighter Side of News.
Note: Materials provided above by University of Bergen. Content may be edited for style and length.
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