Risk Peaks with Early Life Obesity
The dangers of obesity have been fairly well-publicized in a number of areas.  Most people today are aware that obesity increases the risk of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, sleep apnea, and more.  What you may not realize is that obesity can also lead to cancers, including pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death from cancer in men and women.  Obesity is a major risk factor for pancreatic cancer. According to a 2007 meta-analysis in the International Journal of Cancer, the risk of pancreatic cancer increases about 16% for men and 10% for women for every 5 points of BMI (Body Mass Index).

New research, published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association is suggesting that it isn’t just how overweight a person is that determines risk for pancreatic cancer, it’s when in life they are overweight.  People that are overweight from the ages of 14 to 39 or obese from the ages of 20 to 49 have a much higher risk of pancreatic cancer than normal-weight people.  The risk peaks highest for people that are obese between the ages of 30 to 39.  These people have over three times the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

Other research shows that carrying extra weight around the midsection also greatly increases pancreatic cancer risk.  The ratio between the circumference of the waist and hips indicates the degree of abdominal obesity.  Women who have the highest waist-to-hip ratio had a 70% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than women with the lowest, according to a study analyzing data from the Women’s Health Initiative and published this year in the British medical Journal of Cancer.  This is thought to be because high abdominal obesity indicates a high amount of visceral fat; that is, the amount of fat that surrounds the internal organs.  This fat is highly metabolically active, releasing inflammatory cytokines (messengers) that cause a cascade of inflammatory reactions throughout the body and predisposes to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and premature death. Pursuing a healthy lifestyle at a normal weight will greatly reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.

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