Obesity and cancer: know how they are linked

When we think of cancer, this deadly disease, the first image that comes to people’s minds is that of cigarettes, alcohol, pollution, tobacco and other common causes. Being overweight or obese is rarely thought to increase the risk of several types of cancer. But the reality is that obesity can lead to certain types of cancer.

Although it is common knowledge that obesity leads to diabetes, heart disease and other major non-communicable diseases, significant studies have shown that being overweight also increases the chances of developing different types of cancer. Although more conclusive studies are needed on this subject, there is no doubt that obesity is a growing concern in our society today – all thanks to a sedentary lifestyle.

Obesity is one of the main causes of cancer

Did you know that obesity contributes to 8% of all cancer cases, second only to smoking among preventable causes of cancer?

Obesity can increase your risk of developing cancer. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Studies have shown that obesity can increase the incidence of many types of cancer. Some of them include breast cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, kidney and liver cancer. In fact, several studies have linked obesity and cancer. A study by the American Cancer Society indicated that cancer risk generally increases with age.

How does obesity cause cancer?

A study published in Lancet Oncology in 2018 estimated that around 4.5% of all cancer cases in India were attributable to overweight and obesity.
Adipose tissue, also known as adipose tissue, produces high levels of estrogen, which has been linked to breast, ovarian, endometrial, and some other types of cancer. Second, it is well known that obesity means a higher body mass index (BMI). Increased BMI results can affect the natural process of insulin resistance – insulin production called hyperinsulinemia and prolong the duration of action of insulin-like growth factor – 1 (IGF – 1) . This can lead to colon, kidney, prostate and endometrial cancer.

According to a study published by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), breast, colorectal and uterine cancers are the three most common types of cancer in women and incidentally, all of them are linked to ‘obesity’. Additionally, obese people have elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines, which increases chronic inflammatory diseases, including gallstones and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This leads to DNA damage and can cause bile duct and other cancers.

The fat doesn’t stay in one place. It can become dysfunctional, leading to inflammation, which increases the risk of developing cancer.

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obesity and cancer
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of obesity and cancer. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Take away

With more and more people living a sedentary lifestyle, cases of obesity are increasing, thereby increasing the risk of cancer. There are indirect factors that people are aware of but tend to overlook. Bad eating habits or an unhealthy diet take center stage when it comes to obesity. Untimely and unhealthy eating like processed foods and junk food are becoming the order of the day. Being physically inactive only makes the problem worse. You should include fruits and green leafy vegetables in your diet. These people do not realize that they are “indirectly” “inviting” cancer – cancer of the digestive tract.

Cancer is also on the rise among young people. What’s even more alarming is that childhood obesity is on the rise – a phenomenon passed on by mothers who were obese during pregnancy.

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