A recent study published in PLOS Medicine found that the more body fat a person has, the possibility of cancers in the digestive system rise dramatically. In fact, the chances of a tumor developing in the liver or stomach rises by 13 percent for every additional unit of body mass index (BMI).
The study referenced here was based on 367,561 elderly people in the UK biomedical database, Biobank. These individuals data has been tracked since 2006.
What is BMI?
First off, it’s important to understand BMI and how this unit of measurement has been used. BMI stands for Body Mass Index. BMI has been used to calculate weight ratios to validate possible health related issues relating to BMI.
BMI Calculator (find out what your BMI is)
Problem with BMI: It’s a good baseline measurement if you’re not physically fit and muscular. If you’re not jiggly AND if you have a solid muscle mass, BMI is fairly useless. However, most people that have a high BMI are jiggly and don’t have an abnormal amount of muscle mass.
BMI’s Causal Role in Digestive System Cancer
From the study authors: “We find that BMI has a consistent causal role in increasing risk of digestive system cancers and a role for sex-specific cancers with inconsistent directions of effect. In contrast, increased height appears to have a consistent risk-increasing effect on overall and site-specific cancers.” source
Takeaways and Considerations of the BMI/Cancer Study
Being Obese: Esophageal cancer increases by 10%.
Being Obese: Pancreatic cancer increases by 6%.
Excess body fat may trigger inflammation in the digestive tract.
There’s an increased risk of several digestive cancers and that risk is attributable to fat mass.
“In contrast, increased height appears to have a consistent risk-increasing effect on overall and site-specific cancers.” -study
Conclusion from the Study Authors
“In conclusion, this comprehensive MR study provides evidence that elevated BMI increases the risk of digestive system cancers, and BMI increases the risk of uterine cancer but is protective for other sex-specific cancers, including breast and prostate. We showed that elevated genetically predicted FMI is associated with liver, lung, and pancreatic cancer, with FFMI inversely associated with breast cancer. In contrast, genetically predicted height was consistently positively associated with overall cancer and several site-specific cancers. These findings suggest that obesity and body composition have particular causal relevance to specific cancer types.” – source
Being overweight does not define a person.