Warning: I am not a ray of sunshine today.
Yesterday, I was at the funeral of my very loved aunt, who just died of cancer. I’ve also lost a grandmother and 3 friends to cancer (leukemia, brain, and liver)…and have had multiple scares with other friends and relatives (ovarian, breast, prostate, etc.), who, thank goodness, are ok now.
The number of people who develop cancer has continually increased in the last decades, and while the reasons, I am sure, are multi-fold, one of the biggest causes is perpetual, low-grade inflammation…and much of that inflammation is associated with our depleted gut biomes.
Just this week, three articles came out that I have to share with you as they are completely relevant to this topic.
First, yesterday, I found a story on the New Atlas website describing that same research I wrote about a week ago (out of Harvard University and Massachusetts General (Harvard’s teaching hospital)) that showed that helminths seems to improve metabolism and prevent obesity even in the face of high fat diets, and suggesting that they may be effective as a treatment for obesity and other immune and metabolic disorders. From the New Atlas story:
“New research from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University set out to investigate whether helminth infections could have any connection to obesity, since obesity is known to be related to chronic low-grade inflammation in adipose tissues. The research used a specific type of intestinal roundworm, naturally found in rodents, called Heligmosomoides polygyrus. For over two months, mice were fed either a high-fat diet or a control diet, before they were infected with the parasitic worm. The results were incredibly clear. Following infection with the parasite, the mice being fed the high-fat diet…almost immediately began to gain less weight than those uninfected mice fed the same diet…”[i]
This struck me so profoundly that I needed to write about it again because today, I also found one entitled, “Obesity is shifting cancer to young adults.”[ii] Researchers at Case Western University analyzed data from over 100 publications and were able to show how obesity vastly increases the risk of cancer in young people. This is the stuff of nightmares:
“Cancer typically associated with older adults over 50 are now reported with increasing frequency in young adults. Of the 20 most common cancers in the United States, nine are now reported in young adults. In 2016, nearly 1 in 10 new breast cancer cases, and 1 in 4 new thyroid cancer cases were in young people aged 20-44, according to the review published in Obesity. The data show that with obesity rising among younger demographics, so are cancer rates.”
This article goes on to say that BMI over 30 is highly associated with aggressive malignancies and what’s even scarier is that the increased risk is permanent: “Obesity can permanently alter a young person’s likelihood of developing cancer. Even after losing weight, cancer risk remains…Obesity causes changes to a person’s DNA that can add up over time. These changes include genetic flags and markers—epigenetic modifications—that increase cancer risk and may remain long after weight loss.”
The third article on this topic, “Researchers prove link between common childhood cancer and inflammation,”[iii] describes how a team of researchers at a university in Spain have proven that acute pediatric lymphoblastic leukemia, which is the most common cancer in children (representing about 25% of cancer in children) is caused by inflammation.
So let’s sum this all up:
We have an epidemic of obesity in the industrialized world. In the USA, for example, more than 1/3 of US adults (36.5%) are obese, according to the CDC.[iv] And we also have an epidemic of cancer. According to the US National Cancer Institute, in the 18 years between 2012 and 2030, worldwide cancer cases are expected to increase by 50%, and deaths from cancer are expected to increase by 60%. In the year 2016 alone, 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the USA alone.[v]
As I have talked about before (use the menu on this blog to look at all my posts that refer to obesity), depletion of the human biome – both micro and macro- is highly associated with chronic inflammation and obesity.
How unbelievably terrifying is all this?