Obese people are more likely to develop cancer because a type of cell the body uses to destroy cancerous tissue gets clogged by fat and stops working, researchers have discovered.
Experts already suspected fat sent signals to the body that could both damage cells, leading to cancer, and increase the number of them.
Scientists have been able to show how the body’s cancer-fighting cells get clogged by fat.
The researchers from Trinity College Dublin said they hope to be able to find drug treatments that could restore these natural killer cells’ fighting abilities.
However, Prof Lydia Lynch told the BBC that a better way would be to lose some weight because that is healthier anyway.
Dr Leo Carlin, from the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, added: “This study reveals how fat molecules prevent immune cells from properly positioning their tumour-killing machinery, and provides new avenues to investigate treatments.”