The Beer Belly And Cancer

Excess weight and cancer have been linked for some time, and evidence suggests that some forms of fat lead to a greater risk of health problems than others. For example, a pot belly, or a high amount of abdominal fat, can be more dangerous than the fat that accumulates around the hips and thighs.

Weight and Cancer: The Dangers of a Pot Belly

The connection between excess abdominal weight and cancer is not completely clear. However, a pot belly does appear to increase the risk of both colorectal cancer and breast cancer. There may also be a connection between liver cancer and belly fat.

What Causes Cancer? The Effect of a Pot Belly

The fat that accumulates on the hips and thighs is called subcutaneous fat. This kind of fat lies just under the skin and is easy to grab. The main function of subcutaneous fat is to store energy.

Abdominal fat cells located between the organs, the kind that can form a beer gut or pot belly, are more active and produce a range of hormones and chemical signals. Since visceral fat lies deep within the body, close to the organs, these chemical secretions can affect the way our organs function.

The link between excessweight and cancer may lie in the deep fat of the abdomen. Along with other chemical secretions, this fat produces a high number of macrophages, a special type of immune cell that produces proteins called cytokines. These proteins have been linked to chronic forms of inflammation that can contribute to heart disease and cancer over the long term. Cytokines can also increase the body’s production of free radicals and accelerate oxidative stress. Visceral fat may also contribute to insulin resistance. All of these changes may be part of what causes cancer in those who carry a beer gut or pot belly.

Reducing a Beer Gut

You may be able to reduce your risk of certain types of cancer if you lose your excess visceral fat. One way to do this is to reduce your overall body fat by controlling your caloric intake, lowering your portion sizes and choosing vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of foods high in saturated fat.

You can also make sure you get at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. If you burn more calories than you consume, you should lose weight. Talk to your doctor about finding a diet and exercise plan that works for you.

Resources

Collins, K. (2008). All body fat not created equal. Retrieved January 14, 2011 from http://calorielab.com/news/2008/06/21/all-body-fat-not-created-equal/

Gosnell, M. (2007). Killer fat.Retrieved January 17, 2011, from http://discovermagazine.com/2007/feb/visceral-fat/article_view?b_start:int=0&-C=

Harvard Health Publications. (2006). Abdominal fat and what to do about it. Retrieved January 14, 2011 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it.htm

Reuters. (2009). Belly fat tied to liver cancer recurrence. Retrieved January 17, 2011, from http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5525X020090603