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...
Expert tips from Slimming World obesity expert, Dr. James Stubbs and Dr. Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan from The Weight Loss Doctor.
"Slimmers who join with like-minded people with similar goals and problems - whether online, in social media networks or in a local community group - are more likely to stay motivated to succeed. They benefit from sharing experiences and taking inspiration and motivation from fellow slimmers to help them lose weight. Getting support is crucial to having the tools to cope with small weight gains and stay on track without giving up," says Dr James Stubbs, obesity researcher for Slimming World.
"Don't get too hung up on your weight measurements. A common cause of giving up on losing weight, is when people look at the scales and get disappointed with their progress. This all ties in with having deadlines and wanting to lose weight urgently. The scales don't always show the results of your efforts straight away. Weight also goes up and down due to other factors like hormones, hydration and your last meal. Don't read too much into one weight measurement. You should be looking at the overall trend. If you are sure that you are doing the right things (eating less and being more active) then the results will definitely come. Be patient," says Dr. Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan, from The Weight Loss Doctor.
"For some reason, when people try and lose weight, they have this belief that they need to stick to their new regime perfectly. This is part of the diet mentality and it is very harmful. It means that people who have a "bad day" often feel like they have failed. And in the worst scenario it makes them want to give up. But this expectation of perfection is totally unrealistic. You should expect to have "bad days". Don't beat yourself up over them. A normal life includes days when you eat a bit more and days when you eat a bit less. The main thing to remember is that after days when you have a bit more, you need to get back on track as soon as possible," says Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan, from The Weight Loss Doctor.
"Do it for yourself: Being told to lose weight by someone else scores low as a motivator. Although being told by your GP that your health is at risk can be the shock that sets you on the weight loss road. "Setting your own target weight and losing weight for the reasons that suit you, when they suit you makes all the difference to success. Getting praise from fellow slimmers or colleagues for weight loss achievements is a great boost to help stay on track because it gives a sense of achievement, so spurring you on," says Dr James Stubbs, obesity researcher at Slimming World.
"Make things as easy as possible. It might not sound like a revelation, but the more unpleasant you make your weight loss programme, the less likely you will stick to it. This seems like common sense but so many people still believe in the "no pain - no gain" approach. This might work for a few people, but for most of us, we are much more likely to succeed if we make things as pain-free as possible. How do you do that? Make small changes each week that you know you can maintain. Instead of setting the bar too high and failing, if you make small changes each week, you get a track record of success behind you," says Dr. Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan from The Weight Loss Doctor.