Intermittent Fasting could lower cancer risk among obese women - Healthy Living Association

Intermittent Fasting could lower cancer risk among obese women

Obesity increases your overall cancer risk, but some lifestyle adjustments might help you stay healthier. It might be as easy as limiting your eating times, without needing to lose weight. Here’s what you should know about it!

Cancer and obesity

Nowadays, cancer is one of the most frequent chronic disease around the world. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, around 39.5% of people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime [1]. Unfortunately, experts know there’s a steady rise in diagnostics every year. In fact, by 2040 cancer-related deaths will reach around 16.4 million per year. This is almost double of the current 9.5 million [1].

Being overweight is linked to a greater cancer risk [2]. This condition ups your risk of liver, colon, breast and pancreatic cancer. But, in spite of this, a recent study found intermittent fasting could help.

Intermittent fasting could lower breast cancer risk

Researchers found intermittent fasting (IF) could lower cancer risk in obese women [4]. This is important because others hadn’t found ways to counteract the risks without treating obesity.

To understand why IF works, it’s important to cover how obesity affects out body. In most cases, obesity causes metabolic changes, including insulin resistance and unhealthy circadian rhythms. These, coupled with inflammation caused by adipose tissue, increases the risk of several cancer types.

Obesity particularly affects breast cancer among postmenopausal women [3]. Fortunately, researchers now know that not all overweight women are at risk. In fact, only those with metabolic problems and abnormal insulin sensitivity have higher cancer risk.

In contrast, IF could help overweight women with metabolic issues. In those cases, IF can help control insulin sensitivity and heal their metabolism. In turn, this would lower their heightened cancer risk.

Other studies have discovered that calorie restriction helps patients at risk. This practice helps stabilize their insulin levels and improve metabolic health [2]. However, typical ‘dieting’ is difficult for many women. Here’s where intermittent fasting comes in.

Intermittent fasting, also called time-restricted feeding, is simply limiting food intake to specific times. In many cases, if is used as a tool for weight loss since it might help reduce consumed calories on a daily basis.

Intermittent fasting can help heal the metabolism

A research group from the University of California focused on improving insulin resistance among obese women [4]. In turn, this would help lower the risk of breast cancer. The results are very hopeful.

In the study, researchers found that consistent intermittent fasting lowered cancer risk. In fact, it also slowed down breast tumor growth in mice. More importantly, these results happened without calorie restriction or weight loss.

The reasons why IF could help lower cancer risk are still under study, but researchers are sharing their hypothesis. Here are the main factors that could intervene:

  • Improved glucose tolerance: this means the subjects that fasted had more stable insulin levels than those who didn’t.
  • Stable hepatic function: so the liver was able to properly synthetize enzymes and process food.
  • Stable circadian rhythms: this also stabilizes your gut microbiome, which in turn can help lower your risk of chronic disease.
  • Less visceral fat: fasted mice lost visceral fat, even if their weight stayed the same. This is key for long-term health, since visceral fat increases your risk of different chronic diseases.

Considering these positive effects, researchers concluded IF could inhibit tumor growth even when the weight of the subjects remained identical.

Our final thoughts

Although these results aren’t as good as the benefits of actual weight loss, they do point at the usefulness of IF. This could be a great option for people that have a hard time with traditional calorie-counting or dieting in order to lose weight. Would you consider doing intermittent fasting? Let us know!

References

  1. National cancer institute. Cancer statistics. Available here.
  2. Vucenik, I., & Stains, J. P. (2012). Obesity and cancer risk: evidence, mechanisms, and recommendations. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
  3. Anderson, G. & Neuhouser, M. L. (2012). Obesity and the risk for premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer. Cancer prevention research.
  4. Das, M., et al. Time-restricted feeding normalizes hyperinsulinemia to inhibit breast cancer in obese postmenopausal mouse models. Nat Communications. (2021).

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