Obesity a major cause of cancer

Posted: November 30, 2009 in Obesity Medicine by

We have long known that obesity causes heart disease and diabetes.  More recent attention has been paid to the link between obesity and cancer.

A new study released by the American Institute for Cancer Research reveals that at least 100,000 cases of cancer each year are caused by excess weight.  That is a new case of cancer every 5 minutes.  What is more surprising is the degree to which adiposity contributes to certain cancers.  For example, 49 percent of endometrial cancers and 35 percent of esophogeal cancers are attributable to excess weight.  In all, 7 different types of cancer are associated, including pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, gall bladder cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.  Previous studies have also found a link to ovarian cancer, stomach cancer.

Does losing weight reduce risk of cancer in an overweight person? According to the National Cancer Institute, at least one study found that women who lose at least 20 pounds and attain a normal weight have the same cancer risk as healthy persons.  Other studies have also shown the overweight and obese individuals with cancer die sooner and are less likely to be cured (see previous blog: “Extra weight does not protect patients who have cancer.”)