Did you know that your weight could be increasing your risk of developing cancer? Experts are now saying that at least one in six adults did not know that obesity is actually the leading cause of cancer. This is why a leading cancer charity in the United Kingdom, Cancer Research UK, has now launched a huge educational campaign to help bring awareness about this huge health concern. Alison Cox, the director for cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, stated: “if more people become aware of the link, it may help spare them from cancer”. Not a bad idea right?
So how serious is the link between obesity and cancer and what does it mean for you? Well first off, it’s a big deal, a recent International Agency for Research on Cancer reported the strong evidence that links bodyweight with 13 types of cancer, including esophageal, breast, pancreatic, kidney, colon, and ovarian cancer. Not only is there a link, but the link is actually getting stronger. Researchers used data from the Health Survey of England to calculate the prevalence of obesity at ages 35 to 44 years old amongst baby boomers versus that of the millennials. The results were significant in that they showed that over 70% of millennials were expected to be overweight or obese between 35 and 44 years old compared to just 50% of baby boomers when they were the same age. So not only is there a link between obesity and cancer, but due to the fact that we as a society are becoming more obese, there will be more cases of developing cancer in our future. The data really shows us that our weight management is a crucial part in improving our future.
So how is obesity really linked to cancer? Well, I am glad you asked, obesity is strongly associated with changes in the physiological function of fat cells (adipose tissue), which can lead to insulin resistance of the tissue. The normal function of insulin is to regulate how the body uses and stores glucose (sugars) and fat. With tissue becoming insulin resistant, it will lead to an increase in glucose and fat that is not properly metabolized and instead remains in circulation. Not only does this increase fat deposits, but fat itself can produce estrogen. Estrogen can actually feed certain cancer types including certain breast and ovarian cancers. This is why I remind all of my patients with cancer that weight management is just as important for them as it is for preventing cancer in the first place.
New Campaign Tackles Ignorance Over Obesity-Cancer Link – Medscape – Mar 07, 2018.