Why Belly Fat Is So Bad When Fighting Cancer (And What To Do About It)

Cancer is a disease that’s promoted by a variety of different factors. Toxins, radiation exposure, pathogen exposure, chronic inflammation, an unhealthy cellular terrain… all of these things can contribute to the process.

Being overweight can also increase your risk for cancer… but researchers are finding that belly fat may be at the root of the problem.

One of the most important aspects of fighting cancer is to prevent it in the first place. And if you are fighting cancer, you want every anticancer variable on your side. 

So today we’re going to talk about how belly fat may promote cancer, and how you can get rid of it.

Belly Fat Vs Subcutaneous Fat

The human body can accumulate fat in different ways. Some people accumulate more “subcutaneous fat” when they get overweight. Others accumulate more “visceral fat…” also known as belly fat. 

The easiest way to know which type of fat you’re accumulating is to look at your body shape (especially for women).

If you are more “pear shaped,” then you tend to accumulate more subcutaneous fat than belly fat.

But if you are more “apple shaped,” then you tend to accumulate more belly fat.

pear shape body vs apple shape body

But a more accurate way to assess your situation is by measuring your waist to hip ratio. Here’s how you can do this:

  • First, measure your waist at most narrow point.
  • Then measure your hips at the widest point.
  • Then divide the first number by the second number to get you wait to hip ratio.

For women, it’s important to keep your waist to hip ratio below .85, and your waist circumference below 32 inches to maintain your health [1]. But most women perceive themselves as “pear shaped” when their ratio is around .75 [2].

For men, it’s important to keep your waist to hip ratio below .9, and your waist circumference below 37 inches to maintain your health [3]. And in terms of belly fat in men, maintaining your overall waist circumference may be even more important than your waist to hip ratio [4].

Belly Fat Can Produce A Cancer Promoting Growth Factor

So why might belly fat matter in terms of cancer risk?

Because this type of fat is more metabolically active, and can release a variety of growth factors into your bloodstream. And as you will see, some of these could help transform “vulnerable cells” into cancer cells.

Because of the long established link between obesity and cancer, researchers at Michigan State looked deeper into how fatty tissues could influence cancer growth [5].

What they found was that belly fat from mice fed a high fat diet, produced a growth factor called FGF2. This growth factor could transform cells into cancer if they expressed FGF receptors.

But when the belly fat was removed from the high fat diet mice, there was no longer an increase in FGF2. This indicated that the belly fat reacted with the high fat diet to produce the cancer promoting FGF2.

The belly fat from the mice fed a low fat diet didn’t have the same cancer promoting effect.

Not All “High Fat Diets” Are The Same

While a “high fat diet” was shown to be negative in this study, it’s important to note that this doesn’t apply to all high fat diet.

The ketogenic diet for example is very high in fat, but has shown potential in helping against cancer. For most people, this type of diet would also cause a big decrease in belly fat and weight loss overall [6],[7],[8]. 

high fat diet food

But what the researchers used in this study was a very particular type of high fat diet… 

More specifically, what they used was like a “high fat, standard american diet” (full of commercial cooking oils and refined carbohydrates.) 

These mice were basically fed corn oil, and likely some type of refined carbohydrates (probably sugar or cornstarch.) What this means is that the mice got a very high intake of (probably commercially produced) omega 6 fatty acids, almost no omega 3’s, and little to no saturated fats.

So overall, it’s not clear what would happen if the fats in the high fat diet were in a healthier balance (not that having more belly fat is good in any situation.) The researchers themselves cited a study in which mice fed a high saturated fat diet didn’t produce more FGF2.

So what we should take away from this study? 

If you eat a high fat diet with a lot of processed and commercially produced foods… then you’re belly fat is likely to be more cancer promoting. It’s even worse if you have a lot of belly fat.

How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat

So getting rid of belly fat is important for overall health. It could help you prevent or fight against cancer, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, and help you feel better about your appearance overall.

So here are some things that can help you get rid of belly fat…

  • Aerobic Exercise: People often forget how powerful exercise can be. Aerobic exercises have also shown to cause significant decreases belly fat [9]. And if you’re fighting cancer, aerobic exercise is also important for optimal oxygenation of your tissues (including tumor tissues.)
  • Reduce Sugar and Carbohydrates: Most people get too much sugar and carbohydrates in their diets overall. Sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) is especially bad as it may directly feed your belly fat [10],[11]. Reducing your carbohydrate intake, can also reduce belly fat through overall weight loss [12],[13]. If you are fighting cancer, a very low carb, ketogenic diet could also be beneficial for you.
  • Get Enough Protein In Your Diet: For people who are healthy overall, you’ll want to get about ⅓ of your calories from protein. Getting enough protein in the diet has also been linked to reduced belly fat [14],[15].
  • Increase Soluble Fiber: This is a specific type of fiber that can soaks up water and slow down your digestion. Just 10 grams per day of soluble fiber could help to decrease belly fat (see guide below for some good food choices) [16].
20 fiber rich foods list


So as with many things related to your body, getting healthier overall is important if you want to prevent or fight cancer optimally. 

Getting rid of excess belly fat has always been an important part of overall health. But now we know why it can help you fight cancer…

So if you have excess belly fat, start taking the first steps to getting rid of it with some of these techniques above. Not only will you be healthier, you’ll also feel and look better.

Are You A Good Candidate For Our Program?

If you’d like to learn more about the AntiCancer360 approach and see if we can help you… either click here to schedule a free call so we can discuss your case in more detail, or watch our free online webinar to learn more about our approach.

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