High levels of body fat can put you at risk for a slew of various ailments, such as heart disease, diabetes and strokes, just to name a few.
Your risk of developing and dying from many common cancers increases in obese individuals, and obesity is linked to poor cancer outcomes and higher rates of cancer recurrence, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Now, a study published in the journal Cancer suggests that high levels of abdominal and thigh fat in men are associated with a higher risk of acquiring aggressive prostate cancer.
“Visceral fat – fat embedded deep in the abdomen, surrounding internal organs – is incredibly dangerous,” said Dr. Nirav Patel, an oncologist at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay, Wis. “And it presents itself in men as what’s often called a ‘beer belly.’”
The study followed 1,832 Icelandic men for 13 years. During that time, 172 developed prostate cancer, and 31 died from it. Though the reason why is unclear, the correlation between beer bellies, thigh fat and aggressive prostate cancer exists. Possible explanations include chronic inflammation, metabolic and hormonal effect of fat tissue, which predispose to the development of cancer.
You don’t have to be obese to have visceral fat. In fact, even men with a normal body weight, but with a “beer gut,” are at risk, Dr. Patel says.
“Cardio and strength training are great ways to work on reducing overall body fat, including visceral fat,” explained Dr. Patel. “Other ways to help lose fat include trying to manage stress, eating a healthy diet and getting a decent night of sleep.”