The ‘cluster condition’ that raises kidney cancer risk almost 5 times

Metabolic syndrome, a common condition that now affects an estimated 1 in 3 people in the U. S., can raise your risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

You likely have metabolic syndrome if you’re affected by three or more of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal fat
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • High blood triglycerides, which can raise your levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol
  • Low HDL, the “good” kind of cholesterol

Now most of us know that metabolic syndrome is sort of a stern warning to get your “house” in order before heart problems could develop.

But one thing most of us don’t know is that it can increase our risks for certain cancers.

For instance, having metabolic syndrome raises your breast cancer risk by 17 percent. You’re also more likely to get liver or colon cancer if you have metabolic syndrome.

And the worse your metabolic syndrome gets, the higher your risk…

Metabolic syndrome progression and cancer risk

A team of researchers in China recruited 44,115 adults in China with an average age of 49 and divided them into four different groups based on metabolic syndrome scores maintained over four years: low, moderate-low, moderate-high and elevated-increasing.

Compared with participants with a low-stable trajectory pattern in metabolic syndrome scores, those with an elevated-increasing trajectory pattern saw their cancer risks skyrocket:

  • 1.3 times higher risk of any cancer
  • 1.6 times higher risk of liver cancer
  • 2.1 times higher risk of breast cancer
  • 2.5 times higher risk of colorectal cancer
  • 3.3 times higher risk of endometrial cancer
  • 4.5 times higher risk of kidney cancer

Even when compared with the combined low-stable, moderate-low and moderate-high pattern groups, the elevated-increasing trajectory pattern group had higher risks of developing all cancer types.

In addition, participants with persistently high metabolic syndrome scores and chronic inflammation had the highest risks of developing breast, endometrial, colon and liver cancers.

By contrast, high risk of kidney cancer was mostly observed among participants with persistently high metabolic scores but without chronic inflammation.

People with metabolic syndrome tend to have higher levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) compared to those without metabolic syndrome. This chronic low-grade inflammation could contribute to the development of various cancers. Incorporating CRP assessment for patients with metabolic syndrome could help identify additional individuals at high risk of developing cancer, allowing for targeted early diagnosis and prevention.

“This research suggests that proactive and continuous management of metabolic syndrome may serve as an essential strategy in preventing cancer,” says senior author Dr. Han-Ping Shi of Capital Medical University in Beijing.

“Our study can guide future research into the biological mechanisms linking metabolic syndrome to cancer, potentially resulting in targeted treatments or preventive strategies,” Shi says. “Formal evaluation of these interventions will be needed to determine if they are able to modulate cancer risk.” 

Key ways to lower your risks for both dangers

This study adds to the pile of reasons for managing your metabolic health. And there are a few key ways to start…

A study published in 2020 that began decades earlier found that light physical exercise protected people with metabolic syndrome. Over 20 years, participants were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease — as well as other diseases linked to metabolic syndrome, and that could certainly include cancer.

But if you want to ramp it up, try aerobics combined with strength training — an exercise combo found to help ward off at least 6 types of cancers including kidney cancer.

In addition to exercise, follow a healthy diet higher in whole foods, like the DASH diet, and avoid ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed foods not only have an outrageous association with all-cause mortality, but with several types of cancers and, you guessed it, metabolic syndrome.

Also, get enough vitamin D. Insufficient vitamin D levels may raise your risk of metabolic syndrome by 18 percent.

Other nutrients that can help protect against metabolic syndrome include vitamin C, resveratrol and flavonoids like anthocyanins. Eating five to 10 servings of fruit a day, particularly citrus fruits and purple fruits like grapes and plums, can help boost your levels of these nutrients.

Lastly, consider drinking hibiscus tea. In a review of studies involving the use of hibiscus in treating metabolic syndrome in animals and people, researchers found it often improved a number of metabolic syndrome measures. 

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Does worsening metabolic syndrome increase the risk of developing cancer? — EurekAlert!

The association of metabolic syndrome scores trajectory patterns with risk of all cancer types — Cancer

What is Metabolic Syndrome? — National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.