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12:23:09pm | 13-Nov-2018 | 980 | 79

 

Published 1 hour ago

By Tim Newman

Fact checked by Jasmin Collier

 

Obesity is a risk factor for cancer, but researchers are only now unfurling the exact mechanisms behind this connection. A new study looks at how obesity might scupper the immune system's ability to attack tumor cells.

Cancer immune attack

Obesity may reduce the immune system's ability to attack tumor cells.

Obesity is at an all-time high in the United States.

According to the National Institutes of Health, two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are either obese or overweight.

Obesity increases the risk of developing a number of health conditions, including type 2 diabeteshypertension, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease.

Similarly, obesity increases the risk of developing certain cancers, including endometrial cancerliver cancerpancreatic cancer, and colorectal cancer.

In fact, an estimated 40 percent of new cancer diagnoses are associated with obesity.

Though the relationship between obesity and cancer risk is now well-documented, we do not have a full understanding of why this relationship exists. It is probable that there are a number of ways in which they are linked.

For instance, fat cells release hormones and growth factors that tell our body's cells to divide more often; this increases the chance that cancer cells will be produced. However, this is not the full picture.

Obesity and natural killer cells

A recent study adds another piece to the obesity-cancer puzzle. Researchers from Trinity College Dublin in the United Kingdom and Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, both in Boston, MA, conducted the research.

They recently published their findings in the journal Nature Immunology.