If you are overweight, the last thing you want is to be reminded of why you should lose weight. No one who has extra pounds enjoys them. You are reminded when you try to exercise or just move about during your day, when you look in the mirror, or when you look at someone who is slim and trim. You might have made valiant attempts to lose weight, only to have it return. You may tell yourself that you just have “fat genes”, and you naturally are just a heavier person. Knowing you are overweight nags at your thoughts, and you push it away. It’s just too hard to deal with, and you can live with it, right?
You may not want another reason to lose weight, but that doesn’t change the facts. There is no easy way to say this. Weight can be more than a nuisance — it might trigger cancer. Simply having extra fat increases your risk, and the more overweight you are, the more risk. There is a direct link between fat and inflammation, and there is a direct link between inflammation and cancer. Maybe you aren’t considered obese, just somewhat overweight. That still leaves you with more cancer risk than you would have at a proper weight.
Let’s see why fat is dangerous, and then steps you can take to deal with it.
Cancer risk? Fat chance!
Numerous studies have linked overweight conditions, especially obesity, to cancer. A report published in The New England Journal of Medicine assessed over 1000 observational studies to determine this link. From this analysis, they concluded that an elevated BMI (body mass index) — a measure of fat in the body — shows “sufficient” evidence of increased cancer risk in humans for cancer of the esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, gallbladder, breast, pancreas, uterus, ovaries, kidneys, and thyroid, plus various myelomas. These studies are extremely confident that increased BMI means increased risk of all these cancers. This is not a “maybe”. Excess fat gives a decisive bonus to cancer developing or spreading. Why?
A study published in Obesity, and conducted at LSU Health New Orleans’ School of Medicine and Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center found a direct impact of fat on the immune system. MDSCs (myeloid-derived suppressor cells) and immunosuppressive macrophages (white blood cells) are produced by fat. The researchers were studying how the MDSCs and macrophages are activated or enhanced by the fat in obese patients. They explained that altered lipids, insulin, and leptin in obesity are primary contributors. The study referred to “obesity-associated inflammation” and surmised that inflammatory cells with immunosuppressive properties were the problem.
Anything that pushes the body into inflammation is bad, but sometimes unavoidable. An injury or even simple bruise will cause temporary inflammation. The body uses inflammation to heal, and if the problem is temporary, the inflammation does its job and goes away. That does not pose a cancer risk. Without inflammation we would not live very long, as it is a necessary healing response. But it is always triggered by something, and that trigger is some problem that the body attempts to fix with the inflammation response.
Excess fat often isn’t a short term problem — it produces inflammation continually and suppresses the immune system, at least to some degree, all the time that you carry the fat. There is even a term for the chronic metabolic state caused by obesity: “metaflammation.” The immune system reacts to obesity much like it does to an injury, except that the situation doesn’t get resolved, keeping the immune system in a fighting mode. First, the immune system sends inflammatory cytokines, which travel to adipose (fat) tissue. Cytokines are inflammatory molecules secreted by immune cells, meant to damage an enemy invader, and they cause damage which may cause further immune response. Since the fat was stored because of excess calories over time, the frequent insulin usage likely has caused at least some insulin resistance, which can lead to more weight gain as the body attempts to compensate. These reinforcing cycles make weight gain much easier than weight loss, with metaflammation, or low grade chronic inflammation, happening continually.
Chronic inflammation is an imbalance, which means that excessive fat is an imbalance, regardless of your genes. You can try to excuse yourself by saying you have “fat genes”, but in reality it is how the many aspects of your genetic code are brought into an active state by your environment that counts. In other words, if you give the right environment to your body, it will not store excessive fat, no matter your DNA, because everyone’s genes are driven by the environment they are presented with. Epigenetics, where cells bring otherwise dormant code of DNA into an active state, is driven by environment. We all have genetic code segments that know how to store fat, and how to consume it. Which are active in your case?
With obesity, even when you are calm and relaxed, your immune system is on alert. And it gets tired of being on constant alert. If your way of life is chronic inflammation, due to any factor, including excess fat, you are more susceptible to many diseases, one of them being cancer. The immune system fights a battle it cannot win, and weakens it so that when new challenges hit, it is less able to respond fully to them. That is why obesity is considered a co-morbidity to many other diseases.
You may have tried to lose weight, only to find that those pounds don’t want to come off. You crash diet, or try to eat much less, but instead of losing weight, you lose energy and just drag through the day. Why does weight loss have to be so difficult, you wonder. Perhaps you give up, or you enter the lose weight/gain weight cycle of serial dieters. There is a reason that your body may be reluctant to lose fat, even if it has to sacrifice energy: toxins! Pollutants and other toxins are stored in fat. Fat provides an effective way to “park” toxins that it can’t otherwise detoxify. Rather than letting those toxins build up to a dangerous level in your blood, it throws them into the fat tissue. Then, when you cut calories and ask your body to start using fat stores for energy, and it encounters those toxins, it thinks twice about breaking down the fat and releasing them. It will attempt to slow the breakdown of fat so that the toxins are released slowly enough for it to handle the load. Toxins cause oxidative stress as your body tries to detoxify, and that stress can cause damage especially if it occurs rapidly. The intelligence designed into your body tells it to leave toxic fat alone as much as possible.
Added to the stress of fat on the immune system and the self-reinforcing inflammation cycle, the toxin storage issue can make weight loss very challenging. At least it is a challenge if you approach it with typical diets. Effective and healthy weight loss involves supporting your body during the stress it will take while consuming the stored fat. Dieting does not require a sledgehammer to get the job done; a firm, supportive approach will do much better.
What to do
To deal with fat and consume it while staying healthy requires a double dose of health-promoting diet and activities. Since the release of toxins from fat creates oxidative stress, more antioxidants are needed during weight loss. Obviously exercise has value, not only in consuming excess calories, but also in powering the detoxification mechanisms of your body. Nutrient density is important: your food needs to provide more vitamins and minerals in bio-available forms with less calories. This is the opposite of the so-called “empty calories” so prevalent in the junk food of the American diet.
If you eat the right foods, you can actually eat more and still lose weight! Your energy can actually improve during your weight loss. What’s the key? Since you want low toxic intake, low calorie intake, high nutrition, and packed energy for when your body needs it, there are limited solutions. Not sweets or high calorie carbs — they just fuel the insulin cycle and lead to weight gain. Not most protein — although many diets favor protein for weight loss, and it is a much steadier energy source than carbs — animal protein carries toxins, and when cooked, more toxins are created and oxidation occurs, increasing your oxidative stress and feeding back into the inflammation cycle. Your best solution is to turn to plants — vegetables and high raw fat plant foods like avocados, seeds and nuts. These provide nutrition and energy such that the body doesn’t spike insulin levels and trigger fat storage.
Since fat causes chronic inflammation, and inflammation promotes cancer, the treatment for obesity is quite similar to the treatment of cancer. Both treatments are targeting inflammation, and if your inflammation is held down because your body doesn’t need to inflame, you will likely lose weight without even trying. Anti-cancer diets are also weight loss diets (for those who are overweight), as they bring your body back towards balance. A balanced body will gravitate to an appropriate weight, low inflammation, and readily available energy.
Put even simpler — if you live a healthy lifestyle, weight loss will not be a problem. It will be a natural result of your lifestyle.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Weight is a byproduct of diet AND lifestyle. Most people gain weight because they eat too many inflammatory calories and do not exercise enough. Add to that mix a high mental stress environment and this triggers a highly inflammatory cascade which turns into weight gain and disease. It is not about the weight — it is about what causes the weight to accumulate. The mind affects the body so very much. You eat wrong foods for pleasure because you have little to none of the type of pleasure that is natural to you. We have had patients lose 100 lbs. effortlessly eating as much food as they want. How can this be? We first balance the brain. The brain is the key where the control of all pleasures and pains reside. Everyone with inflammation regardless of the causes has an out of balance brain, both consciously, and more importantly, subconsciously. This is what drives an inflammatory lifestyle. Once we balance the brain-mind connection and release the conscious and subconscious stress programs found on the 3D Brain Imaging then a person will begin to heal from all inflammatory causes. We add to that a customized diet so each patient is not eating foods that set off their immune system. What is good for one person is not always good for the other. This must be tested and retested. So when you see extra weight or other inflammatory factors showing signs in or on your body remember: first mind, second customized diet, and third exercise. It’s not about the weight or the cancer or any disease — it is about the stress programs stored on the hard drive of your brain that triggered them. This is why people do so well when we balance the whole person, not just a part.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.