A woman with a 34-inch waist has double the risk of uterine or womb cancer compared to one with a waist just three inches smaller, says a new international study.
Researchers also found women who piled on the pounds during their adult years were at much higher risk of this form of cancer than those who put on weight in their youth.
Scientists working for the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) project analyzed data from 223,000 women across 10 European countries. They discovered that obese women – with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more – are most at risk of uterine cancer, along with women who put on more than 44lb since the age of 20.
A ‘particularly strong’ link, says the study, was found in post-menopausal women and those who had never taken hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or used the contraceptive pill.
Professor Christine Friedenreich, of the Alberta Cancer Board in Canada, who led the survey, said: “This large study has provided very strong evidence that obesity and fat distribution increase cancer risk.”
A large waist is deemed even more hazardous for health than just being overweight because fat cells carried around the stomach pump out chemicals that can damage the insulin system, raise blood pressure and increase cholesterol levels.
Excess weight and obesity are often caused by a blood glucose and insulin imbalance called Insulin Resistance. Fortunately, this latter condition can be reversed by a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise, which, in turn, can combine to reduce waist size by boosting weight loss.
If left unchecked, Insulin Resistance-linked excess weight may lead to a variety of disorders, including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of infertility and menstrual irregularity, as well as acne and other skin conditions, excess facial hair and female hair loss.
Overweight women do not have a monopoly on PCOS, however. Up to 50% of PCOS sufferers may be females who are of normal weight or even lean.