The Link Between Cancer and Obesity

There is considerable evidence that there is a link between obesity and the role it plays in cancer. The evidence shows there is a possible association between an increased risk of colon cancer, gallbladder cancer and the risk of thyroid cancer for women. Low activity level may have an impact on the risk of these cancers.

The good news is that obesity may actually protect against some forms of cancer. Premenopausal women appear to be protected from breast cancer. Studies show that lung cancer is less prevalent among obese relatives as opposed to lean relatives.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2002 the estimates for cancer incidence showed links to obese women in 51% of the new cancers diagnosed among women. This suggests that to decrease risk for cancer women should strive for reducing weight to within normal range for their height.

Obesity increases the risk for breast cancer for women who are postmenopausal, and for endometrium, colon, kidney, and esophagus cancer. If you avoid weight gain you can lower the risk for breast cancer in women who are postmenopausal.

Experts concluded in 2001 that certain cancers of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus and kidney are all associated with obesity. In fact, 25% to 30% of cancers such as breast, colon, endometrial, and kidney cancers can be linked to physical inactivity and obesity.

Statistics showed 41,000 new cases of cancer in the U.S. in 2002 that were linked to obesity. A report also showed that 14% of deaths from cancer in males were linked to obesity and 20% of cancer in females resulted in death that were linked to obesity according to the National Cancer Institute.

British reports say that the more weight carried on the body increases the odds of developing cancer. The obesity epidemic worldwide means that if there is a link between obesity and cancer that because of the link, if obesity is of epidemic proportions than cancer rates will also rise.

Statistically the rise in BMI correlates to a rise in the risk for certain cancers for both males and females. An increase in BMI raised the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma by 52% for males and 33% for thyroid cancer and 24% for colon and kidney cancer. Women with increases in BMI were experiencing increased risk for postmenopausal breast, colon, pancreatic and thyroid cancers. Males and females had an increase in risk for leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma when their BMIs increased.

Experts are not sure why the connection between increased BMI and cancer risk but it may have something to do with the changes in circulating levels of various hormones.

The link between obesity and cancer is just one more reason to lose weight.

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