Will Your High Heels Give You Cancer?

There is a long list of factors that can contribute to the development of cancer in the human body. Many of us have learned about the more well-known cancer risk factors, like smoking and obesity, but there are also some daily habits — things you probably do all the time — that you’ve never heard could increase your risk for all types of cancer.

One of those daily habits is wearing high heels. A professor from the University of Southern California says that he has pinpointed the fashion staple as one of the mysterious factors that can increase cancer risk. Dr. David Agus, author of A Short Guide To A Long Life, claims that wearing uncomfortable shoes can trigger low-level inflammation in your body. Inflammation is known to be a risk factor for the development of cancer.

“There’s clearly an association with inflammation and cancer,” he told Yahoo Beauty. “It’s important to get rid of sources of inflammation. And wearing your shoes to the point that your feet hurt – that’s a source of inflammation.”

The good doctor says that wearing painful shoes here and there likely isn’t harmful, but putting up with foot pain every day can have “significant ramifications.”

Dr. Agus says that cancer can be linked to damaged DNA, and anything that interferes with the DNA’s ability to repair itself can increase a person’s chances of developing cancer.

Chronic inflammation may not seem like a big deal, but if the body is primarily focused on curing a low level of chronic inflammation, then other issues may go unrepaired. This means low-level inflammation can upset your body’s ability to repair its DNA and ultimately contribute to cancer.

The doctor says that it’s not just foot pain that can contribute to this problem. He says that any pain in your body is inflammation, which means that any chronic pain can increase your risk of developing cancer along with other chronic illnesses.

Dr. Jack Jacoub only partially agrees with Dr. Agus in his assertion. His exact response to the question was, “yes-ish.” Dr. Jacoub is a medical oncologist and the director of thoracic oncology at MemorialCare Cancer Institute, a unit of the Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in California. He said, “We know that inflammation probably contributes to the risk of various types of cancers. When it’s not controlled by the body, it usually does detrimental things to the body’s health — and that applies to the risk of cancer and chronic medical diseases.”

Dr. Jacoub says that uncomfortable heels could increase a person’s risk of developing cancer, but the phenomenon by itself, meaning from high heel use alone, would take years and years. He also says that the same could be true for anything that causes long-term pain over time, even wearing jeans that are too tight.

The experts say that to lower your cancer risk the best thing you can do is to listen to your body. Of course, all of the common-sense factors still apply — maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, limit your alcohol intake, and eat a healthy diet. Added to that, avoid wearing clothing or shoes that cause significant pain over an extended period of time. Pain is your body’s way of signaling a problem. If your body tells you “I’m not comfortable with these things,” pay attention.

[Photo by Max Mumby/Getty Images]