Belly fat can increase the risk of cancer in people, according to the recent research published in the journal Oncogene which also includes an Indian-origin scientist.
The study revealed that the protein released from fat in the body can turn cells cancerous.
It is well known that obesity is a contributor to a cancer risk, but how it actually causes cancer is still a conceal. The researchers are unable to explain the reason completely.
According to the researchers from the Michigan State University (MSU) in the United States, certain proteins released from fat in the body can cause a non-cancerous cell to turn into a cancerous one.
"While there have been several advances in treating cancer and improving the quality of life of patients, the number of new cases continues to surge," said Jamie Bernard, assistant professor at MSU.
"It's important to understand the cause so we can do a better job at reducing the number of cancer cases using dietary modifications or therapeutic interventions," said Bernard.
The research found that a lower layer of abdominal fat, when compared to fat just under the skin, is more responsible for cancer, releasing even more of this protein and encouraging tumor growth.
It evaluated that more than one-third of the population is obese.
"Our study suggests that body mass index (BMI) may not be the best indicator," Bernard said.
"It is abdominal obesity, and even more specifically, levels of a protein called fibroblast growth factor-2 that may be a better indicator of the risk of cells becoming cancerous," she said.
Obesity has linked to different kind of cancers including breast, colon, prostate, uterine and kidney.
There are two layers of the belly fat. First one is subcutaneous fat lies under the skin and the second one is visceral fat which is more harmful.
The study was conducted on mice. They were fed a high-fat diet and discovered that this higher-risk layer of fat produced larger amounts of the fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) protein.
FGF2 stimulated certain cells that were already vulnerable to the protein and caused them to grow into tumors.