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Health Tips Why fat guys are more likely to get multiple cancers

Men who were obese when they were first diagnosed with cancer were more likely to be diagnosed with a secondary cancer

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Why fat guys are more likely to get multiple cancers play

Why fat guys are more likely to get multiple cancers

(Men's Health/Shutterstock)

If you hit this parameter, your cancer risk skyrockets

We’ve already reported on prior research that found obesity raises your risk of 13 different types of cancer. Scary enough, but now a new Korean study adds to it: People who are obese are not only more likely to develop cancer, but they’re also more likely to get diagnosed with a second type after their original diagnosis.

In the study, researchers studied nearly 240,000 male cancer survivors over a 7-year period. They discovered that men who were obese—which the researchers defined as a body mass index (BMI) of over 30—when they were first diagnosed with cancer were 42 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a secondary cancer 1 to 2 years afterwards than men in the normal BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9.

The most prevalent secondary cancers were colorectal, liver, biliary tract—the tubes that travel from the liver to the small intestine— thyroid, prostate and kidney cancers.

So how are your extra pounds putting you at risk?

Carrying too much extra fat can lead to chronic inflammation, a state in your body that can fuel cancer growth, says lead researcher Sang Min Park, M.D., of Seoul National University College of Medicine. What’s more, the more fat tissue you have, the greater amounts of the hormones insulin or estrogen you may produce. And surges of these hormones can lead to the development of cancer cells, he says.

All of these factors increase your risk of a first cancer, but also make you more likely to develop a second, unrelated one as well. That’s because not only is your body still struggling with those same weight-related issues—like inflammation and hormone surges—but the cancer treatments for the first malignancy can also stress your immune system, which can make you more susceptible to a secondary cancer.

Your move, then, is to work on losing your spare tire. That’s a smart move for men who want to cut their chances of developing a first cancer and for cancer survivors looking to protect themselves from a second one.

More research needs to be done to determine how much extra fat you should drop, but it seems like losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight might be protective, Dr. Park says.

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