We’ve all had those days when we’ve tried to put on a pair of trousers that used to fit comfortably but all of a sudden feels too tight, only to assume it has shrunk in the washing machine.
We might also blame the washing machine for shrinking our shirts, our pyjamas, and more or less everything else we wear. After all, it’s not like we’ve gained any extra weight or anything, even if we have been stuffing our face with pizza three days in a row.
But where we have to finally snap out of our denial and admit we’ve put on a few pounds is when we realise our belt no longer wraps around our waist without cutting off our oxygen supply.
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At this point the logical thing to do would be to buy a new belt to accommodate our larger figure, or to just ditch belts completely and stick to elasticated bottoms.
But remaining in denial about our increased belt size and sucking in our guts to do up the buckle carries a number of health risks we need to acknowledge, including cancer.
According to doctors from Glasgow and Strathclyde universities and Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, wearing our belts too tight could put strain on the valve between the stomach and the gullet, causing stomach acid to move up into the gullet.
Explaining the consequences of this to the Daily Record in 2013, lead researcher Professor Kenneth McColl, of Glasgow University’s institute of cardiovascular and medical sciences, said: “Unlike the stomach, which is designed to withstand this, the gullet is damaged by the acid.
He added: “This causes heartburn and, in the longer term, possibly oesophageal cancer.”
Oesophageal cancer is one of the most rapidly increasing forms of cancer in the world, with its rise being associated with higher levels of obesity and acid reflux.
Patients with this form of cancer might confuse the early warning signs for heartburn, leading to a late diagnosis that leaves them with just months to live.
According to Cancer Research UK, only 13 percent of those diagnosed with oesophageal cancer survive for more than five years.
Wearing your belt too tight could also damage your immune system as it may hamper your lymph system from operating effectively.
Other problems you might encounter if your belt is too tight are abdominal pain and pressure, digestive problems such as bloating and constipation, spine stiffness, nerve compression, hernias, and lower back pain.
As if that isn’t enough to convince you to invest in a new belt that actually fits, consistently wearing tight belts could also lead to infertility, as pressure might be put on the reproductive organs, experts at Only My Health have said.
For men specifically, this may lead to body heat getting trapped around their private parts due to a lack of cool air being able to flow between their legs, and this could reduce sperm count.
Of course, the best course of action would be to lose the weight you have gained, but in the meantime, not squeezing yourself to the point you can’t breathe might also be a good option.