Clearing Up the Confusion Between Weight and Cancer

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

March 23, 2015

  • The link between body weight and cancer
  • 32 foods that starve cancer cells
  • More cancer-busting tips

Here in the U.S. we’re bursting at our seams. These days, two out of every three U.S. adults is overweight or obese. And the number is expected to skyrocket over the next 15 years. (If your body mass index, or BMI, is between 24.9 and 30 you’re considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or above is obese.)

This is a problem on multiple levels. Being overweight or obese is the single most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It stresses your heart and lungs, and also places a great burden on your bones and joints.

And now, new evidence is showing us that excess weight is responsible for nearly a half million new cancer cases worldwide each year. And the continent with the highest number of weight-related cancers is right here…North America.

So what’s the connection between weight and cancer? It all has to do with the way those extra pounds affect your insulin response.

You see, obesity is a primary cause of insulin resistance. When cells become insulin resistant, glucose can’t be shuttled into them. This stimulates the pancreas to secrete ever-increasing amounts of it in an effort to get glucose into the cells. And it leads to too much insulin in the blood.

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This is where the big problem lies.

First off, excess insulin stimulates angiogenesis. Simply put, for cancer cells to spread through your body, they require the growth of new blood vessels. This growth of blood vessels is known as “angiogenesis.” Without the formation of new blood vessels, cancer cells die off before they have a chance to cause a problem.

Secondly, excess insulin increases the expression of growth hormone receptors and stimulates the release of other growth hormones, like insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1). This, in turn, fuels the growth of cancer cells and prevents them from pre-programmed cell death.

Now, there are ways to help you reduce your risk of cancer…and most of them will probably help you drop some of those extra pounds, too.

So let’s take a look at a few of them.

One of the first things I always recommend to halt the development of cancer is to eat anti-angiogenesis foods.

Probably the most powerful of these foods are “cruciferous” or “brassica” vegetables. This group of veggies contains powerful phytonutrients called sulfuraphane and indoles. These compounds work together to inhibit angiogenesis and control tumor growth. They also help kill cancer cells and protect from DNA damage.

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At the same time, these vegetables won’t induce a strong insulin response. Plus, these all-natural foods will support your weight loss efforts.

What are some good cruciferous vegetables?

Arugula, bok choy, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are great choices. Cabbage, cauliflower, greens, radishes, rutabaga, turnips and watercress are also members of this family. Eating these foods regularly is shown to lower your risk of prostate, colon, breast, lung and other cancers. Just remember to buy organic.

There are also many other foods that can choke off the growth of new blood vessels. In fact, one of today’s leaders in angiogenesis research – Dr. William Li – has created a list of 32 foods that may play a role in cancer prevention. (You’ll notice foods like meats and grains aren’t on the list. Neither are soft drinks, chips, pastries or sugary foods.)

The list includes something for everyone. Plenty of berries, grapes, pumpkin and dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth, and other foods and drinks that are easy to add to meals and snacks. And all of them are filled with tremendous antioxidant power.

Green Tea Red Grapes Lavendar
Strawberries Red Wine Pumpkin
Blackberries Bok Choy Sea Cucumber
Raspberries Kale Tuna
Blueberries Soybeans Parsley
Oranges Ginseng Garlic
Grapefruit Maitake Mushroom Tomato
Lemons Licorice Olive Oil
Apples Turmeric Grape seed Oil
Pineapple Nutmeg Dark Chocolate
Cherries Artichokes

Now, this is a great start, but there’s still something more…

In addition to eating more of these healthy, antioxidant-rich foods, there are a few more important things you can do to starve cancer cells.

For example, whenever you’re under stress, your adrenal system starts working overtime. And since stress hormones increase angiogenesis and the growth of tumors, I recommend decreasing your stress every chance you get.

You can soothe your stress away with activities like yoga, meditation and acupuncture. And make sure to set aside a little time for yourself a few times a week. Soak in the tub, schedule a massage or curl up with a good book.

And if you’re still smoking, I strongly urge you give up the tobacco. You already know it causes cancer and lung damage. However, you might not know that smoking also stimulates angiogenesis, which increases the growth rate of lung cancer.

To stop, I prefer trying alternative methods like acupuncture or hypnosis before resorting to the patch or nicotine gum.

And I caution against using the new electronic cigarettes or Chantix. Quitting is a personal quest and it’s important for you to find what works best for you.


Arnold M, et al. Global burden of cancer attributable to high body-mass index in 2012: a population-based study. Lancet Oncol. 2015 Jan;16(1):36-46.

Finkelstein EA, et al. Obesity and severe obesity forecasts through 2030. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Jun;42(6):563-70.

Lassance L, et al. Hyperinsulinemia stimulates angiogenesis of human fetoplacental endothelial cells: a possible role of insulin in placental hypervascularization in diabetes mellitus. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Sep;98(9):E1438-47.

Davis R, et al. Sulforaphane inhibits angiogenesis through activation of FOXO transcription factors. Oncol Rep. 2009 Dec;22(6):1473-8.

Li WW, et al. Tumor angiogenesis as a target for dietary cancer prevention. J Oncol. 2012;2012:879623.


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