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LMU 109 – The Weighty Connection: Unravelling Colon Cancer Risk


LMU 109 – The Weighty Connection: Unravelling Colon Cancer Risk

Source: Journal: Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention (October 2018)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (October 19, 2018)


In the realm of health, the intricate interplay between weight and cancer has intrigued researchers for years. On October 11, 2018, the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention unveiled a research paper that delves into the link between excess weight and the heightened risk of developing colon cancer. This study contributes vital pieces to the puzzle, offering insights into the mechanisms that tether weight, inflammation, and cancer.

Inflammation’s Trail: Tracking the Culprits

As our understanding of health deepens, so does the realization that inflammation often fuels the fires of disease. The researchers of this study focused their attention on two inflammatory chemicals—Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF) and Interleukin-6 (IL-6)—that have been implicated in promoting inflammation and cancer. The nexus between weight and these inflammatory markers emerges as a critical connection in the cancer equation.

The Study’s Scope: Colon Cells Under the Microscope

The question at hand was whether the link between excess weight and inflammation found a haven within colon cells. To unveil this mystery, scientists meticulously examined colon cells from two groups: 16 lean individuals and 26 moderately overweight participants. In the context of Body Mass Index (BMI), the latter group fell within the moderately overweight category, boasting a BMI at or above 34. The study’s findings reverberated with significance: the colon cells of overweight individuals exhibited a staggering 3-fold increase in TNF levels and a 1.6-fold rise in IL-6 levels compared to lean counterparts.

The Amplifying Effect: Weight’s Role in Cancer Aggression

The connection between TNF, IL-6, and cancer becomes increasingly riveting as one delves deeper into the research. Not only do these inflammatory agents play a pivotal role in cancer development, but they also perpetuate cancer’s aggressive progression. As cancer cells come into existence, TNF and IL-6 propel their growth, replication, and metastasis—a menacing cocktail that amplifies cancer’s impact. The study’s findings unveil how these chemicals serve as key drivers in the intricate dance of cancer development and progression within the body.

Inflammation Unveiled: The Chronic Inflammation-Cancer Nexus

The study’s revelations also bridge the gap between chronic inflammation and cancer risk. The well-established association between chronic inflammation and cancer risk gains further traction as TNF and IL-6 take center stage. Not only do they serve as promoters of inflammation, but they also perpetuate the cycle that heightens cancer susceptibility. The intricate interplay between inflammation and cancer risk finds a compelling partner in TNF and IL-6.

A Call to Action: Weight Management and Cancer Prevention

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, the implications for public health are undeniable. In regions like North America, where colorectal cancer ranks as the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death across genders, insights like these take on heightened significance. With the American Cancer Society reporting that colorectal cancer’s lifetime risk is 1 in 22 for men and 1 in 24 for women, the gravity of the issue becomes palpable. However, the realm of hope exists as well: reports suggest that up to 90% of colon cancer cases are avoidable through dietary and lifestyle practices.

Conclusion: A Deeper Dive into the Weight-Cancer Connection

The study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention unfolds as a vital chapter in the narrative of cancer prevention. Its findings, linking weight, inflammation, and colon cancer, echo the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. As colorectal cancer continues to pose a formidable challenge to public health, awareness of these linkages and the implementation of dietary and lifestyle strategies emerge as a beacon of hope. The quest to unravel the tapestry of cancer and offer pathways to prevention remains an ongoing journey.


  1. Main Reference:
  2. Pfalzer AC, Leung K, Crott JW, Kim SJ, Tai AK et al. Incremental elevations in TNF-alpha and IL-6 in the human colon and precancerous changes in the mucosal transcriptome accompany adiposity. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-18-0121 Oct 11, 2018.

    [Read the full study here] (

  3. IL-6 and Cancer:
  4. Kumari N et al. Role of interleukin-6 in cancer progression and therapeutic resistance. Tumour Biol. 2016. 37(9):11553-11572

    [Read the study here] (

  5. Colon Cancer Statistics:
  6. Science Daily: Inflammatory proteins in colon increase incrementally with weight:

    [Read more here] (

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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