It’s one of those rare, universal experiences: Just about everyone has made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight at one point or another. And just about everyone has given up on that resolution by Valentine’s Day (if not sooner).
But I’m not going to spend today talking about why so many people try to drop those extra pounds—and ultimately, fail. (Though really, you could say the answer to that question lies at the heart of every other article I’ve ever written.)
Today, I’m urging you to make that resolution one more time. And to make it the very last time. Because keeping it—and keeping the weight off for good—is more critical now than ever. In fact, a slimmer waistline could be the only thing standing between you and a deadly cancer diagnosis down the road.
Much like smoking, creeping weight kills
Most discussions about obesity focus on the usual obvious risks, like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. (Not to mention the risks that come with these conditions, like blindness, amputation, and pancreatic and liver diseases.)
You don’t have to be overweight to receive any of these diagnoses. But it’s fairly common knowledge that carrying around extra fat raises the odds tremendously.
Lesser known is the fact that obesity is also an independent risk factor for a long list of cancers. It can slash your life expectancy by as much as 14 years. And this danger is real—whether you’ve been fat your whole life or only started packing on the pounds with age.
In fact, a recent study showed that anyone who gains a significant amount of weight in adulthood—and by significant, I mean 5 units or more on the BMI scale (enough to move you into a new BMI category). A 5-unit increase can take someone from normal to overweight, or from overweight to obese—causing them to face a serious increase in cancer risk. To put this in perspective, a 5-unit increase would equate to a 32 pound gain for a 5’7” person… a weight increase not out of the ordinary for many Americans.1
The men in this study who jumped from a normal weight to overweight suffered a 50 percent increase in cancer risk. And among women who went from normal weight to obese, this risk was raised by 17 percent—hardly a small increase by any standard.
Not to mention, this is far from the only research shedding light on the lethal connection between obesity and cancer. For instance:
• One 2011 study showed that obese patients have worse prostate cancer prognoses—facing a significantly higher risk of their cancer growing and spreading, even with hormone therapy.2
• Another 2011 study showed that extremely obese women are almost 40 percent more likely to develop estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.
Additionally, they’re 35 percent more likely to develop triple-negative breast cancer—
a particularly hard-to-treat form of the disease.3
• Similarly, obese women with ovarian cancer are more likely than normal-weight patients to die from the disease.4
• Being overweight also raises your risk of both colorectal cancer and the most common form of kidney cancer.5-6
And these are only five examples of the 16 different cancers researchers have now directly linked to excess body fat.
Much like smoking will kill you slowly but surely, we now know the same is true about creeping weight. But that’s not all we’ve discovered…
Thanks to some recent findings, we also have a better idea as to exactly how fat is able to exert this insidious influence.
Three ways fat cells help cancer to spread
Late last year, a literature review appeared in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, which covered studies from 1946 up to 2017. Its results revealed that there are multiple ways fat affects your cancer risk—some that I’ve discussed in previous articles, and some new revelations.7
For starters, obesity fuels inflammation. And inflammation, as you may recall, has a long and well-documented association with cancer—not to mention a laundry list of other diseases.
But excess fat also influences the metabolism of cancer cells and hinders your immune system’s ability to remove them from your body—both of which ultimately help tumors to grow and spread.
Several of these studies shined a light on adipose stromal cells in particular—a type of fat cell with the unique power to sneak into cancer sites and fuel tumor growth.
As you might expect, overweight and obese people have more of these adipose stromal cells than thin folks. And here’s why that’s so dangerous: These types of cells are what we call fat progenitor cells, meaning they have the potential to morph into various types of cells.
In this case, they serve as connective tissue, strengthening and growing the vessels which feed tumors with blood, oxygen, and nutrients (a process called angiogenesis). So it’s not exactly surprising that researchers noted significantly greater numbers of these cells in obese patients with breast and prostate cancers.
If this example shows us anything, it’s that not all fat is created equal—especially when cancer is concerned. And that holds true with regard to metabolic activity, too. So much so that there’s a whole new field of research centered around it, called metabolomics.
Why the deepest fat is also the deadliest
I’ve touched on this subject before (in my August 2016 issue), but it’s worth revisiting in the context of today’s discussion. Because when it comes to cancer development, the signals that your fat is (or isn’t) sending make all the difference.
As you may recall, there are three types of fat—white, brown, and beige. And both the amount and activity of each type in your body differs.
White adipose tissue (WAT) is the type that we typically associate with unsightly flab. It’s also the most dangerous, associated with both inflammation and poorer prognosis in breast cancer patients. And it makes sense, since in these cases, fat is actually a part of the tumor’s microenvironment.
In other words, the location of your fat matters every bit as much as the type. Which means that addressing the fat-cancer connection requires more than simply losing weight.
Fat exists both under the skin (subcutaneous) and deeper inside the body (visceral). Even slender people can have excess fat surrounding their internal organs—and it’s exactly this type of adipose tissue that’s most heavily implicated in disease development. (I touched on this in my October 2017 issue. You can access the archives by visiting www.DrPescatore.com, clicking on “Subscribers,” then signing in with your username and password.)
As I’ve mentioned here before, abdominal fat in particular is a beast all its own. And whatever your weight, if you have extra fat around your middle, you have a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease… and yes, cancer.
How to fight fat… with fat
Obviously, getting rid of cancer-fueling fat stores—especially around your waist—is very important. But neutralizing this risk effectively isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. And the critical metabolic difference between white fat and brown fat explains why.
Brown fat is packed with energy-producing, heat-generating mitochondria. In other words, it actually burns calories instead of storing them like white fat. So you can see why it’s considered the “good” type of fat.
While white fat is the culprit behind that deadly spare tire, people who have higher levels of brown fat tend to be slimmer and have better blood sugar control.
In fact, even though brown fat only accounts for a tiny fraction of the fat in the body, it’s capable of melting those dangerous stores of white fat away. But it can only do that when it’s working the way it should.
In other words, to avoid obesity’s most lethal consequences, you don’t just want less white fat in your body. You also need more active stores of brown fat. And how do you achieve that?
Obviously, the standard advice still applies here. Focus on whole foods. Check your portions. Exercise regularly. (And be sure to include strength training to build that lean muscle.)
But research shows that one of the most essential things you can do to supercharge brown fat—and finally start shedding that stubborn white fat—is to rein in runaway inflammation.8
Beat inflammation—and boost brown fat—the A-List way
There are several tried-and-true strategies that will help to keep inflammation at bay—eating an alkaline, Mediterannean-style diet, staying active, and maintaining healthy gut bacteria, to name a few.
But there’s some exciting new research on the role that branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) in particular can play in this quest. They’re a crucial element that most low-carb diet plans have largely ignored—which may explain why so many simply haven’t worked as well as they should.
It’s also why they get top billing in my A-List Diet. You can get the full story on BCAAs by reading the book, The A-List Diet. (And if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? You can even find it on Amazon.com!) But for now, let’s rehash some of the details I shared with you early last year.
The A-List Diet focuses heavily on amino acids—and there’s a good reason for that. These protein building blocks have a hand in just about every important biological process there is. And you need an ample supply in order to keep your body running efficiently.
The branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Your most abundant sources are animal products like dairy, meat, and eggs. And while they’re a muscle-growing trade secret among body builders, they’re also a uniquely powerful weapon against inflammation—regardless of your fitness level.
In this regard, they’re the perfect solution for preventing obesity-related cancers—capable of stopping this lethal trend in its tracks on multiple fronts. (And ultimately, helping you to lose that dangerous extra weight, once and for all.)
But when it comes to BCAAs, everyone’s needs are different. Your own requirements depend on individual factors like your age and hormonal status. Which is one big reason why one-size-fits-all approaches to fat burning just don’t work.
It’s taken me years of research to identify the six different types of dieters and to pinpoint the exact combination of BCAAs to restore balance to your body. (If you’re not sure what your dieter type is, take my free online quiz at alistdietbook.com/quiz.) This “missing piece” forms the backbone of my A-List Diet. So when I say it’s the last diet you’ll ever go on, I mean it.
Make the commitment today, and I promise, you will melt off those inflammatory, cancer-fueling fat stores—and cross the most critical resolution off of your New Year list—for good.
- Lennon H, et al. Lifetime BMI trajectory classes and obesity-related cancer risk in a US retrospective cohort study. NCRI Cancer Conference abstracts. 2016.
- Phipps AI, et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Mar;20(3):454-63.
- Pavelka JC, et al. Cancer. 2006 Oct 1;107(7):1520-4.
- Adams KF, et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Aug 1;168(3):268-77.
- Bardou M, et al. Gut. 2013 Jun;62(6):933-47.
- Himbert C, et al. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Sep;10(9):494-506.
- Sanyal A, et al. Cell Rep. 2017 Jan 3;18(1):225-236.