Belly Fat May Increase Risk of Ovarian Cancer


Belly fat can increase risk of uterine cancer by more than 20 percent, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.

Measuring a waist-to-hip ratio is a recommended way to measure belly fat. It is also a common indicator or predictor of cardiovascular disease. The World Health Organization defines abdominal obesity in women as having a waist-to-hip ratio of more than 0.85. In men, this number is 0.9. To find this ratio, the waist is measured at the navel and compared with the measurement of the widest part of the hips. Then, the circumference of the waist is divided by the circumference of the hips.

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This measurement has been used to assess the risk of chronic disease and even attractiveness. However, the latest research from the World Cancer Research Fund shows that risk of ovarian cancer increase dramatically with every 0.1 increase in the ratio. In fact, with every 0.1 increase in the ratio, the risk of developing ovarian cancer increases by 21 percent.

Konstantinos Tsilidis from Imperial College London stated that “the results demonstrate how important it is for women to make sure they maintain a healthy weight in order to reduce their cancer risk…More evidence on the associations between body fat and different cancer types could allow for individuals to be targeted for personalised cancer prevention interventions, such as weight loss programmes.”

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Additionally, apple-shaped women, or women who carry most of their fat around the belly area rather than the hips or thighs, are far more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. Mortality from several chronic illnesses increases as the inches increase in waist circumference measurements. As reported by the Nurses’ Health Study, women with a waist measurement of 35 inches or higher had almost double the health risks of women with smaller waistlines.

“We know that extra weight around the waist increases the risk of a range of health conditions, such as diabetes, but this important study is helping us shine a light on how body fat around the waist could affect cancer risk,” said Dr. Panagiota Mitrou, a director at the World Cancer Research Fund. “It is incredibly important that people are aware of the dangers of excess body fat, particularly around their waist.”

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These risks affect all women with an apple-shaped body type, but carrying additional weight only adds to the potential issues they may face. This study was published in the British Medical Journal and also explored the connection between waist-to-hip ratio and other cancers, such as pancreatic and bowel cancer. Ovarian cancer, however, did pose the highest threat as the risk continues to increase with every small increment in measurement.