New research has revealed that both metabolically healthy and unhealthy forms of obesity are linked to a higher risk of developing obesity-related cancers. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, analyzed the body mass index (BMI) of nearly 800,000 European participants and their metabolic health in relation to cancer risk. The findings showed that metabolically unhealthy women with obesity had a 21% greater risk of colon cancer, a 3 times greater risk of endometrial cancer, and a 2.5 times greater risk of kidney cancer compared to metabolically healthy women of normal weight. Similarly, metabolically unhealthy men with obesity had a 2.6 times greater risk of kidney cancer, an 85% greater risk of colon cancer, and a 32% increased risk of pancreatic and rectal cancer compared to metabolically healthy men of normal weight.
To improve metabolism and treat obesity, the authors recommend avoiding overeating, eating more plant-based foods, and considering intermittent fasting which can allow the metabolism to burn excess fat. Additionally, it is important to cut down or cut out factors that can trigger metabolically unhealthy obesity, such as ultraprocessed foods and foods with added sugar, and to get physical activity as it can change the body composition and metabolic profile even if weight loss is not achieved.
The study emphasizes the importance of metabolic health in relation to overall health and highlights the risks associated with metabolically unhealthy obesity. It also underscores the need for more aggressive screening for certain cancers in those with obesity and metabolic aberrations. While obesity has long been associated with increased cancer risk, this study provides further evidence to support the connection between metabolic health and cancer.