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September 26, 2011 | 2 minute read

A Groundswell of Research: Inflammation & Cancer

Name a serious health problem and chances are, you can trace its origins in some way to inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a hot topic in cancer research and it was the topic to a packed room here in San Diego at the American Dietetic Association’s annual meeting.

Fat cells are active cells

The research was presented by Penn State University’s Gordon Jensen, who says there’s now a groundswell of information on inflammation and cancer. Jensen is a nutrition scientist who has long studied the roles of inflammatory responses in obesity and various diseases.

Inflammation is an immune response when white blood cells zip towards an injury and release substances to repair it. But too much of a good thing can leads to health problems, and that’s what happens when inflammation is chronic.

At the cellular level, the immune system release signaling molecules called cytokines, which play a role in tumor development. They also release molecules that can prevent cancer cells from dying and damage DNA.

Research now shows that obesity leads to a state of chronic inflammation. Fat cells pump out cytokines and cancer-promoting compounds. It’s likely one reason why obesity is linked to increased risk of seven different cancers.

Understanding how inflammation plays a role in cancer development has a lot of therapeutic implications, said Dr. Jensen. Diet is one way to help reduce and control inflammation.

Is there an Anti-Inflammation Diet? We’ve written about it here.

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