Monday, March 10, 2008 by: Luke J. Terry, citizen journalist
So what is at work here? How is there a connection between cancer, obesity, and toxicity? The World Cancer Research Fund found a link to obesity in six types of cancers. The implications are that many more types of cancers may be linked as well.
The entire process may be an adaptation to conditions of modern life. The body’s innate wisdom is using two simultaneously occurring metabolic trends to protect our physiological processes. We know that toxicity can severely damage and alter physiology. For example, many industrial chemicals mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. We call these compounds xenoestrogens, and they are all around us, in the form of flame retardants, pesticides, plastics, and many thousands of other chemicals.
Studies of cancerous breast tumors have shown elevated concentrations of these toxic man-made chemicals, including parabens found in deodorants and antiperspirants.
One form of estrogen commonly known as estradiol has protective effects on women’s bodies. Women with greater levels of estradiol compared to other estrogen compounds show decreased risk of reproductive tissue cancers. Another form of estrogen known as estrone is associated with increased risk for reproductive tissue cancers including breast cancer and others. Obese women produce more estrone, and are also at greater risk for PMS. The evidence of the links of the unholy triad continues to mount.
The same trend linking toxicity, obesity and cancer holds true even for young girls. There is a worldwide trend of girls experiencing puberty earlier than ever, a trend that is especially strong in America. Epidemiology shows us that childhood obesity is a probable cause of early-onset or “precocious” puberty, defined as prior to age 11. Research has shown a link to diet because unhealthy eating patterns cause elevated insulin levels, in itself a risk factors for cancer.
There are many suspected links between xenoestrogens and precocious puberty. Children today are fatter today than in years past, just as their parents and other adults are. Likewise, the bodies of young girls contain more xenoestrogens from plastics, pesticides and other industrial sources. One theory states that these xenoestrogenic compounds act as signals to the developing endocrine system, helping to trigger an early puberty.
Other researchers have demonstrated a link between childhood obesity and early puberty. Some researchers hold a hypothesis that the extra body fat is the reason for earlier puberty, since the sex hormones are built out of cholesterol. There is a likely interplay between the two, though this link is still being studied. However, epidemiology yet again demonstrates the unholy triad’s connection with studies showing that for every year earlier that puberty comes, that child’s lifetime cancer risk increases by 4.0%. If this trend prevails for another 40 years, we’ll see the current epidemic of cancer turn into a pandemic. Currently, one in two men, and one in three women will experience cancer in their lifetime.
Of the many theories as to why girls are experiencing puberty earlier, one theory is sociological in nature, because these researchers blame our sex-saturated society. They believe that because girls are bombarded with images and messages of sexuality in culture, their bodies respond to this stimulus by producing more sex hormones earlier, which as described above, is a risk factor for cancer.
Events that effect psychological and emotional health and development are also risk factors for disease. Girls and young women in western society and worldwide are still at high risk for sexual assault, rape, and incest. A female’s lifetime risk of some form of sexual assault has been estimated to be as high as one in four. New studies have demonstrated a link between childhood trauma, or what the researchers term “childhood adverse events” including inappropriate sexual contact, is linked to increased disease risk over that child’s lifetime. Childhood traumas increase the risks of eating disorders, addictions, and other maladaptive coping mechanisms, all of which increase a person’s risk of intake of toxic substances, as well as increases in production of endogenous, or internally made toxins, and in turn, increase the risk of obesity.
Psychologically, excess body weight can be seen as a physiological armor, deflecting unwanted attention and decreasing sexual availability. In this way, people may hold onto excess weight as a conflict-avoidance mechanism, a toxic belief in itself.
The holographic theory of the body states that our physical body stores memories of our experiences in our tissues. Tissues become dysfunctional by becoming short, dry, tight, and “gritty” due to the buildup of old traumas, conflicts, and wounds and is stored as toxic compounds of emotional origin. This same toxicity can be stored in adipose or fatty tissue.
Adding complexity is a physiological maxim that sounds like a playground epithet: “the fatter you are, the fatter you get.” Simply stated, it appears that when a person accumulates body fat of an amount equal to more than about 20 lbs over ideal weight, the fatty tissues begins to act like a separate endocrine organ, secreting leptin, cortisol, and other non-beneficial hormones. These hormones accelerate the fat-storage process, and through the catabolic, or muscle-wasting effects of cortisol, the body fat begins to take away the muscle stores while piling on the extra fat pounds. This is a run-away train that is very difficult to stop.
So extremely obese people have toxic stores of fat that are beginning to take over the person’s metabolism. People who are in such poor condition have a very difficult time losing weight, and when they do, they experience many symptoms of detoxification, including skin eruptions, diarrhea, nasal congestion, body aches, and other signs that the body is letting go of toxins. These detox symptoms prevent many people from seeking weight loss. This is unfortunate, because these people are the ones that really need both detoxification and weight loss.
The take-home message is clearly spelled out through the research: you can lower your cancer risk by losing weight. You can lose weight by detoxifying. You can lose toxicity by losing weight. At a deeper and more holistic level, you can process and release old tensions, conflicts, and traumas through a variety of somatic or body therapies, including massage, Feldenkrais, hypnosis, EFT, acupuncture, and many other therapies.
Vibrant health, or the state of vitality, is characterized by a strong body of appropriate body fat, relatively low levels of stored toxins, and the healthy ability to release old traumas, resulting in a state of lowered disease risk, heightened immunity, strength, confidence and clarity. This vitality state is achieved systematically through healthy choices in diet, exercise, healthy introspection, and, increasingly relevant for today, detoxification, internal cleanses, and spiritual or mental fasts from media, noise, pollution and negativity.
F Massart , R Parrino , P Seppia , G Federico , G Saggese,, How do environmental estrogen disruptors induce precocious puberty?, Minerva Pediatr. 2006 Jun ;58 (3):247-54 16832329
About the Author…
Luke practices acupuncture, Oriental & natural medicine, and conducts wellness retreats in the mountain resort community of Breckenridge, Colorado.
He sees clients at Sacred Tree, an integrative healthcare & wellness spa, located at the base of Peak 8 at Blue Sky.
Visit us at http://www.sacredtree.com