Obesity is now seen as a clear risk factor for cancer. There are several ways in which obesity can influence cancer development, as confirmed by a new study published on Cancer Prevention Research and carried out by researchers from different centers including the University of Utah in Salt Lake City (USA). The data of this study once again recalls the importance of maintaining a body weight in the norm for prevention,” says Dr. Lorenza Rimassa, deputy head of the Unit of Medical Oncology at Humanitas.
Adipose tissue influences the development of cancer in different ways, depending on the type of fat and its position in the body. For example, obesity increases the risk of inflammation, which in turn is associated with cancer. In addition, the presence of adipose tissue in breast cancer is associated with a worse prognosis. Fat is also involved in the metabolism of cancer cells, with some types of fat being more active than others from a metabolic point of view: they can release several substances that trigger the growth of tumors.
In the research in question it was then seen that some fat cells were able to infiltrate cancer lesions and promote tumor growth; these cells were found in large numbers of obese patients with prostate or breast cancer. The location of fat is also relevant, which is part of the micro tumor environment in case of breast cancer.
Researchers have obtained this information from a review of twenty clinical studies that have deeply investigated the issue of the exchange of information between adipose tissue cells and cancer cells. Better understanding of how cells communicate and being able to interrupt this process could help researchers identify new strategies for cancer control.
However, what can be done for primary prevention?
“Everyone should try to follow a healthy lifestyle, with a healthy and balanced diet and regular physical activity,” the specialist points out. Sedentariness and diet rich in animal fats and sugars, therefore a very caloric diet, can lead to obesity and being overweight. Several studies have identified obesity as a risk factor for many types of cancer, starting with the most common cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancer, esophagus cancer and stomach cancer,” concludes Dr. Rimassa.