Obesity is defined by body mass index more than 30. Body mass index is derived from your weight and height. Obesity is now rising across many countries in the world including India. It is said to have reached an epidemic proportion in our country with 5 % of the population being morbidly obese.
Current research is finding that besides causing heart problems and metabolic abnormalities, obesity is also risk factor for many cancers. Yes, you read right- obesity can increase your risk of many cancers.
Cancer of kidney, stomach, large intestine, pancreas, food pipe, uterus, breast, thyroid, prostate and liver have been shown to be associated with obesity. Infect, obesity is the source of about 15% of all preventable cancers!
How does obesity cause cancer? This is a very interesting question. The exact mechanism is yet not clear but there are many theories. First, by secreting chemicals (called inflammatory compounds) which cause persistent low-grade inflammation in the body. Persistent inflammation for a long time causes DNA damage. DNA is the genetic material in the body responsible for cell functioning. Damage to DNA can manifest information on cancer.
Second, it directly affects body immunity. There is evidence to show that obese people have impaired functioning of blood cells responsible for body immunity. Remember- body immunity is the first line of defence not only for infections but also for cancer.
Third, it causes hormonal imbalances in the body. For example, females have oestrogens. Oestrogen is responsible for a lot of physiological functions in the body including the growth of normal breast. However, if there is excessive oestrogen in the body- it can lead to persistent stimulation of breast tissue causing cancer. Fat or adipose tissues are one site in the body where these hormones are produced.
Protect yourself from obesity-decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and importantly decrease the risk of the above-mentioned cancers.
Avoid calorie-dense food and sugary drinks. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Hydrate yourself well as sometimes thirst is misinterpreted as hunger. Find a time and ways to burn calories. Exercising not only reduces body weight but also improves body immunity and metabolism.