Dr Aidin Rawshani

How overweight and obesity lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer

Contents

Obesity and obesity causes diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer

In the body there is fat (adipose tissue) in several places. A large part of the fat is found under the skin (subcutaneous fat). There is also a lot of fat around our organs in the abdomen (abdominal fat, abdominal fat). In addition, some fat is found inside certain organs (e.g. the liver). In general, it is usually said that the fat contained in the abdomen is most harmful. Those who have a lot of fat in the abdomen (abdominal obesity) have a particularly high risk of having type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Today we know that this is due to the fact that the fat in the abdomen adversely affects the metabolism of the body. Very abdominal obesity goes hand in hand with several metabolic disorders, especially type 2 diabetes.

Fat affects the body’s metabolism, among other things, by releasing hormones. Research suggests that fat in the abdomen (abdominal fat) has the greatest ability to release hormones, thereby disrupting the metabolism of the body. The more fat you have in the abdomen, the greater the disturbance in your body’s metabolism. In this case, “metabolism” refers in particular to the way insulin and glucose are handled in the body. In addition to metabolic disorders, research shows that the more fat you have, the more inflammation is in your body. You can measure this inflammation with specific blood samples, the value of which increases in inflammation. The following picture illustrates how obesity leads to a wide range of diseases. As shown in the picture below, obesity is harmful both because it affects metabolism and because the fat itself presses and burdens surrounding organs.

How excess weight leads to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer

The Long Explanation

In our fat (all fat) there is, above all, one type of cells, namely adipocytes. An adipocyte is simply a fat cell. It is these cells that build up our fat. Adipocytes secrete two substances: hormones and adipokins; both of these are used as signals in the body. The amount of adipocytes (i.e. fat) in the body strongly correlates with how much hormones and adipokins are released from the fat. Some of the adipochins cause inflammation. If you have a lot of fat, the inflammation becomes pronounced. This type of inflammation is a little special. It means that the cells of the immune system are generally activated in the body and that there is a general inflammation in the body. (in medical language this is called systemic inflammation).

In the liver (and other organs), the cells have something called liposomes. These can be seen as the repositories of fat inside the cells. People who are overweight have more and larger liposomes inside the liver cells. These liposomes can become very large and eventually lead to liver cells functioning increasingly poorly and you get fatty liver. Fat can also accumulate in other organs and cells and it can also lead to damage to those cells.

In the fat tissue, triglycerides (the most common type of fat in the body) are also broken down to free fatty acids that fall into the blood. People with overweight/obesity have a higher concentration of free fatty acids in the blood.

In conclusion, obesity leads to inflammation of the body and impaired functioning of the cells of the body. A consequence of this is that the effect of insulin becomes worse and insulin resistance occurs.

Many people with overweight and obesity appear to have disorders of the nervous system, especially the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is “automatic” (we can not control it) and performs many important functions in the body, such as regulation of our blood pressure and heart activity. People with overweight and obesity often have disorders of the autonomic nervous system and these disorders lead to getting high blood pressure. The autonomic nervous system is also crucial for the normal functioning of the kidneys and, as you know, people with diabetes have a significantly increased risk of kidney damage.

Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes

There is no doubt that the main danger for people with diabetes (both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes) is cardiovascular disease. People with diabetes have several times increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease, etc. Two thirds of all deaths among people with diabetes are explained by cardiovascular disease.

Cancer and Diabetes

People with diabetes have an increased risk of cancer (data from the ERFC study):

It has been noted that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing the following types of cancer:

116% increased risk of liver cancer (liver cancer) 51% times increased risk of pancreatic cancer (pancreas cancer) 45% increased risk of ovarian cancer (ovarian cancer) 40% increased risk of colon cancer (colon cancer) 40% (possibly) increased risk of bladder cancer 27% increased risk of cancer lung cancer 25% (possibly) increased risk of breast cancer

For other cancers, people with diabetes probably had no increased risk.

Other diseases

People with diabetes also have an increased risk of other diseases:

  • 302% increased risk of kidney disease
  • 239% increased risk of infections
  • 228% increased risk of liver disease
  • 70% increased risk of fall injuries
  • 64% increased risk of mental illness.

Reduce or eliminate the risk of disease and complications

Risk factor control (controlling risk factors), weight loss and exercise are crucial for getting rid of, or at least reducing, the risk of getting the above diseases. For people with type 2 diabetes, weight loss is crucial. For all people with diabetes, regardless of their type, you have to invest hard in controlling risk factors. We have described the profit of risk factor control (see Type 1 diabetes and risk factors).

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