It has long since been the enemy of the body-conscious, but a 'muffin top' wasitline could pose a far more serious threat to women, according to scientists, who have discovered a link between the fat cells around the waist and the risk and growth of ovarian cancer.
Although it has long been known that excess fat increases a woman's risk of developing bowel, pancreas, breast and ovarian cancer, this research is the clearest evidence so far that shows fat not only increases the risks of cancer, but fuels its growth too.
The researchers come to this conclusion after discovering that the fatty layer of cells that covers the intestines, called omentum, provides cancer tumours with essential nutrients that help it spread to other parts of the body. This was especially apparent in ovarian cancer.
How do you know when your waistline has reached the danger zone?
For women, a waist circumference greater than 32 inches dramatically increases the risk of developing cancer and for men, the waistline shouldn't exceed 37 inches, says researchers.
"This fatty tissue acts as a launching pad and energy source for the likely lethal spread of ovarian cancer," says Dr Ernst Lengyel from the study.
"The cells contain the biological equivalent of jet fuel. They feed the cancer cells, enabling them to multiply rapidly."
If you want to shift your muffin top, here are five ways to keep motivated on your diet...