Belly Fat, Estrogen, and Cancer


Yesterday, during the fourth class, in PCRM‘s (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) Cancer Prevention and Cooking series that I teach, we watched a video in which Dr. Barnard speaks about maintaining healthy weight control. This is extremely important! However, that’s not to say that just because you’re thin you’re not at risk for getting cancer. My friend, Kim, who had breast cancer, was not fat or overweight by any means. She was a size 2 just like me. However, if you are overweight your risk of getting cancer does go up!

belly-fat woman

After class was over, one of my students wrote me the following note:

Hey Nina!

Could you refresh my memory on estrogen and body fat? Does the fat manufacture the estrogen? Store it? I guess for sure it would “store” the estrogen but how did the estrogen get there in the first place? Like in men? What would they be eating that has it in there? Animal products? Thanks! That was a great class! Very informative.

This is what I wrote her back:

Thank you for being there today! Body fat increases and produces estrogents. The  hormones produced in the adrenals travel through the bloodstream and into body fat. That’s where the fat cells convert these hormones into estrogens. Estrogens, as you know, fuel breast cancer growth. Both men and women who have more body fat have less of a protein compound called SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) in their blood. SHBG binds estrogen and testosterone, while keeping these hormones inactive and therefore unable to produce cancer. If this issues persists that means these hormones will continue to freely go where they will, increasing the risk of reoccurring and spreading to other parts of the body.

You asked what would they be eating that has it in it? FAT! Animal protein is high in fat, including all dairy products, oils, processed foods, fried foods, fast foods, etc.

What flushes it out and help normalize these hormones? Fruits, vegetables, beans and grains!

I hope this answers your questions!

Best, Nina


However, I feel that I need to include this bit of pertinent information:

  • The bigger the waist measurement or BMI, the higher the risk of disease.

  • Belly fat or fat produces estrogens, testosterones and androgens.

  • Belly fat increases insulin levels in the blood, which leads to a production of insulin-like growth factors (IGF-1) and these growth factors act like fertilizer for tumor growth.

  • In women, the increased production of estrogen from belly fat can increase the risk up to 50% – 200%.

  • In men, the risk of being overweight and being fat around the middle puts them at a three times the risk of prostate cancer and they have a five time higher risk of recurrence and metastatic disease.

If this is not motivation to start a healthier diet and lifestyle, I’m not sure what is. Time to start moving and eating healthy! If you feel you can’t do a lot of exercise at first, start slow and just go for a twenty minute walk and then increase from there. In Food for Life Classes we recommend eating from The Power Plate:


Fruits: Eat 3 or more servings per day (a serving is 1/2 cup – 1 whole of fruit or juice). Fresh is the best!

Vegetables: You need a minimum of 3 – 5 servings per day (a serving is 1/2 cup). These prevent free-radical formation, deactivate carcinogens, remove toxins from cells, slow or prevent tumor development and progression.

Legumes: (Beans, Peas, and lentils) 3 or more servings!  These help inhibit the production of cancer cells, slow tumor growth and progression. They also help control blood sugar, reduce heart disease, and are an excellent source of protein! There are so many beans, peas and lentils to choose from!

Grains: Need 6 or more. These little guys contain fiber, which is extremely important in carrying and flushing out toxins and “the bad guys”! Whole grains, not only reduce the risk of cancer, but also help prevent heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease!

Edible Rainbow

In one  day/week, try to eat as much from a rainbow of colors!

Health & Happiness,


PS. I’m including an excellent article by Kathy Freston: On Cancer and a Vegetarian Diet:

About urbanveganchic

I'm an urban chic woman, who is passionate about educating others about the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based vegan diet, cancer prevention & survival, as well as art & life. I love adventures and travel. As an artist and a teacher, I care deeply about healthy living, being a conscious steward of our planet, and being kind & respectful towards animals. Learning about a vegan plant-based diet has been like discovering a new country and falling in love with it, so if I sound like I'm enamored you now know why! As a world traveler, I truly wish I had discovered this beautiful new country twenty years ago! Better late than never, as they say, cause there's no going back now! Born and raised in Scandinavia. Proud owner of a tripod cat & a foxy little pup. Speak four languages...some better than others. Working on the fifth one. We are all either part of the problem or the solution! Health & Happiness to you! ~UrbanVeganChic

3 responses »

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