Date Published: 5 December 2013
Excess fat on the waistline could prevent cancer killing cells from doing their job
Recent research conducted in Ireland has revealed that carrying excess fat on the waistline could prevent cancer killing cells from performing their functions effectively.
According to the recent study, which was funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) in Ireland, excess fat located around the waistline can become inflamed in obesity and it has been linked with increased risk of several cancers including oesophageal adenocarcinoma, incidence of which has doubled in the past two decades. There are now approx. 300 new cases in Ireland each year.
" We wanted to investigate why obesity is so closely linked with this particular cancer", said Dr Joanne Lysaght, Assistant Professor at the Department of Surgery, Trinity College Dublin.
" ... and we found some clues in the immune cells that turned up deep in the obese belly fat."
Her team analysed fat samples from 40 patients who underwent surgery for oesophageal adenocarcinoma. The research team found that the fat from obese patients (see also 'what is obesity' and the 'health risks of obesity') contained high levels of active immune cells called T cells, which are a type of lymphocyte.
" We found that about 40% of the T cells were activated and inflammatory, and these are exactly the types of cells you want to kill a cancer tumour. These T cells could be contributing to inflammation, which is generally linked to cancer, or the obese fat could be acting as a sink for these cells meaning they can't do their job and go and fight the tumour. There is still a lot to find out, but these findings will help shed light on how to intervene to help ensure the T cells can do their job in fighting cancer", she explained.
Source: Health Research Board (Ireland).