Obesity

New health concerns for the nation’s growing obese population as a recent study found a connection to obesity and more severe cases of cancer.

The new research was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and published in the recent issue of the journal Cancer Research.

Among the findings, the team established a clear connection between individuals with obesity and the development of certain types of cancer. But more startling is the connection to poorer prognosis for obese cancer victims, “the fat tissue that expands in individuals who are obese, is itself directly involved and that it is not just diet and lifestyle that are important,” said researcher Mikhail Kolonin in a statement.

Various types of cancer triggered what are called adipose stromal cells to move through the bloodstream to the developing tumors. While some of the cells became fat cells, others began to work for the tumors—providing oxygen and nutrients that spurred the cancer’s growth. “The fact that these cells are present in tumors is still an emerging concept. We have shown that not only are they present, but they are also functional and affect tumor growth. Identifying the signals that cause these cells to be recruited to tumors and finding ways to block them might provide a new avenue of cancer treatment,” said Kolonin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity currently affects more than one-third of the U.S. population—and another third are considered overweight. One in five children in the U.S. between the ages of 2 and 19 are also considered obese.

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