Cancer, obesity, and atopy

There is undoubtedly a link between atopic illnesses and cancer.  When comparisons are made between traditional Chinese village cultures and more westernised Chinese cultures, there is a clear indication that certain cancers increase dramatically among those with access to dairy products and the means to bottle-feed these to infants.

In many ways this appears to be a likely outcome.  When neonate infants are formula fed, there is a strong chance that they may begin to produce an immune reaction to bovine antigens.  The chance increases when bottle-feeding is introduced at, or in the few days after, birth.  This beginning of the series of atopic disease symptoms means that, henceforth, the immune system is bound up with the process of reacting to certain ingested foods.  At first there will be the reaction to foods of bovine origin and subsequently there may be the start of gluten intolerance.  Depending on the vehemence of this atopic disease, the child will likely become overweight or underweight, depending upon the remaining efficiency of the food assimilation mechanisms.

It would be useful at this point to recognise that obesity is a symptom of atopy rather than the fault of the child/person affected.  Atopic mechanisms may damage the satiety feedback controls, which normally inhibit eating to excess.  It is therefore of no surprise that many obese persons are also the most likely to suffer from prostate or breast cancers – not caused by obesity, but by the atopic processes that also lead to obesity.  Atopy will be stressing the immune system.  Eating foods of bovine origin will lead to inflammatory responses that, in turn, are quenched by a large increase in corticosteroid production.  Amid this stress, precancerous tissue is likely to be free to develop into cancer and raised levels of  corticosteroid production may help to prevent immune recognition and attack of the cancerous cells.  The same argument could be applied to cancers of the colon and rectum, though there is, possibly, greater understanding of how these tumours develop, often in polyps that hang intraluminally from the gut wall.

Reflecting on the above we should be careful when we read that obesity causes ‘a’, ‘b’, or ‘c’.  Of course, there are symptoms that result from being overweight. Many of them resulting from the physical burden of carrying around the extra weight.  Obesity is also linked to heart disease and arteriosclerosis and is strongly correlated with type II diabetes.  Some researchers think that excess fat physically obstructs the action of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans in some way, but heart and arterial disease are not restricted to the obese and will have been produced by atopic disease processes, alongside the symptom of obesity, but not as a result of obesity.  The implication is that, even if the obesity is lost through diet and exercise controls, the remaining atopic symptoms may still need to be resolved.


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