• Yes, that’s the fact. Obesity and overweight is the second most cause of cancer which is preventable. Data suggest that the cause of cancer because of obesity is 1 in 20
• Risk of getting cancer is higher if a person gains more weight .Duration of obesity is one of the important factor between obesity causing cancer
• A small changes in weight that is kept up over time can make a real difference.
What’s my risk of developing cancer if I’m obese or overweight?
We need to understand that if we are overweight that does not mean that we will get cancer but the chances to getting cancer increase with the increase of weight.
By avoiding gaining more weight or by losing weight we can help stack the odds against cancer.
What are the types of cancer caused by excess weight?
The most common cancer an obese or overweight patient may get are
1- Breast cancer(in women after the menopause)
2- Bowel cancer
3- Oesophageal cancer(food pipe)
4- Pancreatic cancer
5- Kidney cancer
6- Liver cancer
7- Upper stomach cancer (gastric cardia)
8- Gallbladder cancer
9- Ovarian cancer
10- Thyroid cancer
11- Myeloma (a type of blood cancer)
12- Meningioma (a type of brain tumor).
Out of the above mentioned cancer the 2 most common cancer associated with obesity is breast cancer and bowel cancers.Third type of cancer which is more difficult to treat is pancreatic, oesophageal and gallbladder cancers.
Let’s understand the science behind how obesity can lead to cancer
Firstly, we will try to understand what does fat do in the body?
It has 2 important functions;
• Store of energy
• Constantly sending messages to the rest of your body which affect things like cell growth, chemical reactions in cells, and the body’s reproductive cycles.
So fat is active, telling other cells what to do. And if there is too much fat in the body, then the signals it sends around the body can cause damage.
These signals affect;
• Growth hormones– Excess body fat can cause increase in insulin and other growth factors to rise. This can lead to false information and can tell cells to divide more often. This can increase the chance that cancer cells can develop
• Inflammation– Human body has immune system and in case we have more fats cells then specialised immune cells go to the area, possibly to remove dead and dying fat cells. The chance of inflammation is high. If this happens for over a long time the cells divide faster and it can risk the chance of cancer
• Sex hormones– In women especially after the menopause, oestrogen made by fat cell can cause cell to divide faster in breast and womb. This can increase the risk of cell faults and cancer.
So far, these are the main ways scientists have identified, but still it is in research as what are the other ways where extra fat can cause cancer
Does it matter where the fat is stored in the body?
Yes, it matters where the fat is stored in the body. For example if too much of fat is store around the belly then it is linked to bowel, kidney, oesophageal, pancreatic, and breast cancers.
It isn’t clear exactly why this is, but it could be to do with how quickly certain chemicals from fat can get into the blood.