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Excess Body Fat; More Colon Polyps

fat cellObesity is a clear cause of colon cancer yet the exact role excess body fat plays in the cancer's development is unknown. Now a study published in PLoS ONE provides new clues, finding that obese men are more likely to have colon polyps – cell growths – and higher levels of specific fat-cell proteins than their leaner counterparts.

The study included 126 men who were getting routine colonoscopies. At the time of the procedure, blood samples were also collected.

Almost half of the men had at least one polyp and slightly less than one-fifth had three or more. Although most colon polyps are benign, colon cancer can develop from these polyps over time.

The study found that obese men were 6.5 times more likely to have three or more colonic polyps than those of the slimmest men. Higher BMI's linked to the risk of increased numbers of polyps. A larger waist circumference was also linked to increased numbers of polyps. Men with the largest waists, over 45 inches, were almost 5 times more likely to have three or more polyps than the men with the lowest waist size (38 inches or less).  The larger the waist, the more likely for higher numbers of polyps.

When sudy researchers measured the levels of several proteins produced by fat cells, higher levels of leptin along with another protein linked to higher numbers of polyps. Leptin is a hormone that plays a role in regulating appetite and metabolism.

Source: Comstock SS, et al. "Adipokines and obesity are associated with colorectal polyps in adult males: a cross-sectional study." PLoS One. 2014 Jan 17;9(1):e85939. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085939. eCollection 2014.

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