Here’s How Your Waistline Increases Your Risk Of Cancer

Grab a tape measure and see where you fit in

You know that carrying around extra weight is bad news for your heart. But your gut might be warning you about something else just as serious: cancer. Your waist measurement may predict your cancer risk, a meta-analysis in the British Journal of Cancer suggests.

Related: 5 Cancer Self-Examination Checks Every Man Should Know About

After crunching the data from seven separate studies comprising 43,000 people, the researchers concluded that people with waist sizes just 10 centimeters above the average—which was about 91 centimeters, including both men and women—were 13 percent more likely to develop an obesity-related cancer during the 12-year follow up. The obesity-related cancers that would affect men include colorectal, lower 0esophagus, upper stomach, liver, gallbladder, and kidney.

The increased risk of certain cancers kicks in at about 102 centimetres for men, study author, Dr Heinz Freisling,  told The Guardian. Researchers also discovered that body mass index (BMI), hip circumference, and hip-to-waist ratio were also helpful at predicting obesity-related cancers.

Related: 5 Cancers That Kill Men & And How To Spot Them Before It’s Too Late

“To better reflect the underlying biology at play, we think it’s important to study more than just BMI when looking at cancer risk,” Freisling said in a press release. “And our research adds further understanding to how people’s body shape could increase their risk.” So how might waist circumference be particularly telling? It’s a good marker of central obesity, or how much fat you have hanging out around your abdomen. This fat, often referred to as visceral fat, is thought to be more harmful.

Related: Kick Cancers Ass Before It Even Rears Its Ugly Head

Too much fat might drive cancer development by a number of different potential pathways. For instance, it can cause insulin levels to rise, and trigger chronic, low-grade inflammation, the researchers say.

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