Obesity Link to Cancer

Obesity Link to Cancer
Jun 28, 2010 Evelyn De Matias
Obesity is being linked to cancer with strong indications that excessive gain weigth does induce the development of various forms of cancers.

Obesity is becoming a prevalent public health concern, with an estimated one third of American adult population being either overweight or obese, according to the National Cancer Institute. The rising percentage of obese or overweight children is also alarming. About 3.2% of new cases of cancers have been reportedly linked to obesity. The American Institute for Cancer Research is making progress in their study how obesity can predispose a person to the risk of cancer, with different types of cancers found to be associated with obesity.

Obesity Links to Cancers
A number of cancer types have been associated with obesity, namely cancer of the colon, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, cancer of the kidney and esophageal cancer. There has also been a reported link of obesity to the cancer of the ovaries, gallbladder, and pancreas. The European Cancer Organization, together with European Society for Medical Oncology, declared colorectal cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and endometrial cancer as accounting for 65% of obesity-related cancer cases. Experts consider physical inactivity and excessive weight to be accountable for 25 to 30 percent of cancers affecting the colon, breast, kidney, endometrial, and esophagus.

Menopausal women who are obese are 1.5 times more at risk for breast cancer than those with an ideal weight. The risk is reduced when a woman is able to maintain a body mass index of 25 and below post-menopause and throughout their adult life. The increased estrogen secretion by the body fats among postmenopausal women is linked with the risk to breast cancer.

The lifetime exposure to hormones such as high estrogen and insulin levels caused by excessive weight are believed to be the cause of endometrial cancer. Excessive abdominal fat deposits can predispose one to the risk for colon cancers, according to a study conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research. The risk of renal cancer due to obesity is linked to the possible cause of high exposure to the sex steroids androgen and estrogen. The gastric reflux that often occurs in obesity is associated with the development of esophageal cancer. High levels of leptin and insulin can increase the risk to prostate cancer among obese men.

The Biological Connection Between Cancer and Obesity
Several clinical trials were undertaken in order to find the link between obesity and cancer, and the mechanism that cause cancer risk due to obesity involve varied factors with difficulty in establishing the exact mechanism. Among the possible mechanisms that link obesity to cancer are alterations in sex hormones, physical inactivity, excessive weight, and a high fat and calorie diet. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) suggests that the lifestyle habits of an individual can significantly affect their risk of cancer survival, particularly having a high body mass index (BMI) and sedentary lifestyle. A healthy diet coupled with physical activity can reduce the risk to increased fatty build-ups in the body and may help reduce one’s risk to cancer due to obesity.


Breast Cancer Hormone Therapy Options
The Link Between Weight, Obesity and Cancer Risk
Studies Reveal a Link Between Obesity and Cancer
AICR.org, “Obesity and Cancer: The Link” (accessed June 30, 2010)

NationalCancerInstitute.gov, “Obesity and Cancer Q & A” (accessed June 30, 2010)



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