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Why Obesity Increases the Likelihood of Multiple Myeloma and 12 Tips to Take Control
Posted: Sep 02, 2016
Why Obesity Increases the Likelihood of Multiple Myeloma and 12 Tips to Take Control image

In a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, obesity was linked to eight specific cancers, including multiple myeloma. In the study, people were grouped into into three classes of obesity based on their body mass index: Class 1  (BMI, 30.0 to 34.9), Class 2 (BMI, 35.0 to 39.9), and Class 3 (BMI, ≥40.0).

People were 1.2 times more likely to get myeloma if they had Class 1 obesity and 1.5 times more likely to get myeloma if they had class 2 or 3 obesity.

According the the National Cancer Institute, one study estimated that in 2007 in the United States, about 34,000 new cases of cancer in men and women were actually caused by obesity.

In the US, over one third of people are considered obese. The NCI estimates that if every adult of average weight lost 2.2 pounds, it would avoid over 100,000 new cases of cancer!

Why are obesity and cancer related at all? Here are some reasons according to the NCI:

  • Fat tissue produces excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and some other cancers.
  • Obese people often have increased levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in their blood (a condition known as hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance), which may promote the development of certain tumors.
  • Fat cells produce hormones, called adipokines, that may stimulate or inhibit cell growth. For example, leptin, which is more abundant in obese people, seems to promote cell proliferation, whereas adiponectin, which is less abundant in obese people, may have antiproliferative effects.
  • Fat cells may also have direct and indirect effects on other tumor growth regulators, including mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and AMP-activated protein kinase.
  • Obese people often have chronic low-level, or “subacute,” inflammation, which has been associated with increased cancer risk.
  • Other possible mechanisms include altered immune responses, effects on the nuclear factor kappa beta system, and oxidative stress.

In short, an increase in body fat changes hormone levels, signaling pathways, insulin levels and causes inflammation.

What can you do to slim down? Here are 12 tips change your eating habits and fitness from the book Miracle Pill by Tres Hatch. (choose the CrowdCare Foundation on Amazon Smile to have your purchase donate to myeloma research)

  1. Savor Your Food: Concentrate on really tasting your food and enjoy every bite. Greater focus on what you are eating will get you in tune with what your body wants and doesn't. That concentration will also help you know when your body has had enough.
  2. Drink Away the Munchies: Most of the time, our craving for munchies is really thirst. Drink plenty of water before you start eating, wait 10 minutes and you may already be satisfied.
  3. Nothing is Fattening: Make choices based on what your body says it needs and what you've already had, not a food category.
  4. It Takes Nutrition to Increase Your Metabolism: Build your diet around fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains with dairy and meat additions to round out your balanced fuel. Your body needs these foods to increase your body's metabolism rate to burn fat. Cutting calories across the board may actually thwart your weight loss and slow down your metabolism.
  5. Have Faith in Success: What we think, say and do, we become.
  6. Be Consistent: The key to a new habit is consistency, not the intensity of desire.
  7. Don't Push Too Hard on Exercise: Can I do this until I'm 80? Finding a program you enjoy and can continue is the key to consistency.
  8. Use What Time You Have: If you only have 15 minutes one day, exercise anyway to maintain your regular habit.
  9. Don't Eat Distracted: Start your new eating habits by avoiding watching TV or or reading while you eat. Avoiding distractions will help with tip #1.
  10. Be Wasteful: Food doesn't have feelings but you do. If you're full, let it go and share it or throw it away. If you take a bite and realize your body doesn't actually want what you put in your mouth, it's fine to spit it out.
  11. What I Need is What I Want: Thinking about what your body needs instead of what your body wants is empowering. Having food tempt you is enslavement.
  12. Go to Bed Empty and Sleep 7-8 Hours: If you go to bed empty (not hungry) you will wake up lighter. And people who sleep 7-9 hours per night are slimmer than those who get less sleep.


The author Jennifer Ahlstrom

about the author
Jennifer Ahlstrom

Myeloma survivor, patient advocate, wife, mom of 6. Believer that patients can contribute to cures by joining HealthTree Cure Hub and joining clinical research. Founder and CEO of HealthTree Foundation. 

Thanks to our HealthTree Community for Multiple Myeloma Sponsors:

Johnson and Johnson
Bristol Myers Squibb

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