Visceral Fat (VAT): Belly Fat Increases Your Risk for Developing Breast Cancer.
OCTOBER is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so in honor of so many brave women currently in the fight, who survived the fight, who lost their lives in the fight AND to the ones we have the opportunity to save*, this is for you.
Anyone who has been to our facility for a DEXA Body Scan is familiar with the term Visceral Fat (VAT), but to those of you who have yet to visit, here's a little education on the subject and how a DEXA Body Scan can help determine your risk of developing VAT related illness.
Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT), commonly referenced as Visceral Fat and VAT for short, is often associated with high concentrations of abdominal fat or large abdominal girth measurements. While this is a correct association in most cases, it is NOT the full story.
VAT is so much more than just belly fat, and it is especially dangerous for post-menopausal women. (But also dangerous for literally EVERYONE.)
VAT is a term used to describe internal fat that surrounds your vital organs in the abdominal cavity such as your heart, liver, pancreas, and intestines. VAT is considered "Metabolically Active" in high amounts, which basically means it becomes its own toxic organ which drains, or puts a tax load on your vital organs for its own survival.
This tax load leaves the door wide open to secondary illnesses such as: pre-diabetes, type II diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer and more.
The good news is, most of these illnesses can be avoided, improved or reversed* with lifestyle interventions such as a whole-foods based diet, regular exercise, and stress management. I offer Lifestyle Intervention services to clients who need them in our Live Lean Rx Boca facility.
Here is a comparison of what a healthy human heart looks like with no visceral fat (left) and a diseased human heart with visceral fat (right).
Downright scary, yes?
The scariest thing of all is that VAT is a "slow and silent killer" in most cases, which means people spend YEARS accumulating it before a major health event (like a heart attack) occurs.
How Can I Determine My Risks for Developing a VAT Related Illness?
DEXA Body Scan is the ideal and relatively easily accessible method in most areas as it ranks superior in cost and accuracy, but there are a few methods used by the medical community to evaluate this risk that are easy to do "on the spot", and they are very superficial in comparison. They are BMI (body mass index) and BVI (body volume index)/BSA(Body surface area). BMI is calculated by taking the body weight in kilograms (kg) and dividing it by the height in meters (m) squared. It is not a great model for anyone, really, especially the athletic community as it has no way of determining how much body weight is lean mass. BVI is a much closer method to use in disease factors caused by abdominal fat because it is a girth measurement. BVI has two steps for determination of risk factors (1) Identifying Volume (VOLUME (l) = 1.015 × WEIGHT (kg) – 4.937) (2) Identifying Risk (BSA via Mosteller equation BSA (m2) = √ [ (WEIGHT (kg) × HEIGHT (cm)) ÷ 3600 ]/V).
That's A LOT OF MATH that the DEXA Scan can simplify for you in 6 to 8 minutes.
Here is a snippet from one of our DEXA Scan reports:
(All client information has been removed for privacy protection purposes.)
Our DEXA Body Scan will provide you with head to toe readings of:
- Lean Mass (Muscle, Organs, Blood, Water)
- Fat Mass (both subcutaneous "under the skin" and Visceral "internal")
- Bone Mass & Total Bone Strength (Not to be confused with a clinical bone density exam)
In 6 to 8 minutes you can gain a deeper understanding of the number on your scale at home.
This technology is used and trusted by professional athletes, medical professionals and prestigious research institutions and has been around for more than 40 years!
Taken from NIH published research article:
"Unlike anthropometric measures, dual‐energy X‐ray absorptiometry (DXA) provides estimates of fat, bone, and bone‐free lean mass comparable to those from more costly methods such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.9, 17 Using data from Women's Health Initiative (WHI), we have previously shown that various DXA‐derived measures of body fat were positively associated with risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.18 More recently, we also demonstrated that among normal BMI postmenopausal women, relatively high whole body fat and trunk fat (measured using DXA) were associated with almost twofold increases in risk of estrogen receptor‐positive (ER+) breast cancer.19"- Arthur, Zhue, et.al
I have kept the scientific references very brief in this post as it tends to be quite overwhelming to the average person. For those information seekers and science sponges out there reading this, you can click a pink link used in this post at any time to check out the research article I selected to reference. As most of you know I have a background in and passion for research, so proving things via science is kind of my jam, and definitely why Live Lean Rx Boca exists and operates the way that it does.
If you or a lady you love has struggled with their health, wellness, weight loss and has a family history of ANY type of cancer, please share this post with them. Early detection and lifestyle intervention with nutrition and fitness can save lives.
For the entire month of October 2020, I am offering EXCLUSIVE discounted wellness package options to ladies who read and share this article.
Until next time, be well & live intentionally with your wellness in mind!
* Indicates a professional statement derived by years of experience, research and opinion. It is not a guarantee or diagnosis.