| research/study

Obesity Promotes the Accumulation of Proinflammatory Proteins

Protein Concentration Increases Risk for Cancer, Arthritis, Other Conditions

A new study conducted by researchers from Tufts University reports that concentrations of 2 cytokines increase in parallel with increases in weight in humans. Among obese patients, the study found evidence that the cytokines were involved in the activation of 2 precancerous cellular pathways. Additionally, the research found that NSAIDs can reduce the levels of proinflammatory proteins in the colon. Senior author Joel Mason, MD, director of the Vitamins and Carcinogenesis Laboratory at the Tufts Human Nutrition Research Center, commented, “Our results establish, for the first time, that concentrations in the colon of two major cytokines increase in concert with increasing BMI in humans. The increased concentrations are accompanied by changes in gene activation within the lining of the colon that are procancerous in nature.” The findings were published online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

In addition to increased cancer risk, proinflammatory cytokines have also been linked to other inflammatory disorders including arthritis, as well as to insulin resistance and diabetes. The study engaged 42 Caucasian participants aged 45 to 70 years who were undergoing routine colonoscopies at Tufts Medical Center. 16 patients were classified as lean, with a body mass index between 18.1 and 24.9; 26 had varying levels of obesity as measured by BMI ranging from 30 to 45.7. An increase in cytokines was noted across the spectrum of increasing BMI among the study subjects. Additionally, it was noted that the 13 participants who took NSAIDs at least 1x weekly had lower levels of these proteins as compared to the remaining subjects, regardless of BMI. Dr. Mason remarked “Our observation underscores prior work that has suggested that some NSAIDs reduce the risk of colon cancer, presumed to occur through a reduction in colonic inflammation. Their use, however, has to be weighed against the potential adverse effects.”

Read about the study findings.

The journal abstract may be read here.

Sign Up

Subscribe to the PAINWeek Newsletter
and get our latest articles and more directly in your inbox.