Expert Explains Link Between Obesity & Cancer, Provides Tips To Avoid Them

Some common cancers associated with obesity are colorectal, kidney, prostate, liver, breast, and endometrial cancers.

Written by: Varun Verma Updated at: 2023-03-09 13:36

Obesity and cancer are among the most common diseases of the 21st century. At least half of the Indian population is either overweight or obese. Cancer is a new common disease parallelly increasing with obesity. Being obese is a risk factor for at least 13 common cancers. Some common cancers associated with obesity include colorectal, kidney, prostate, liver, breast, and endometrial cancers. Both the duration and severity of obesity are predictors of cancer development. Dr Sriram Srikakulapu, Consultant Medical Gastroenterologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, sheds light on how obesity causes cancer and what you can do about it.

How Obesity Causes Cancer 

A research found that obesity increases cancer in two main ways. First is the hormonal imbalance caused due to obesity. Being obese increases insulin resistance. High insulin levels are associated with increased cell proliferation and the spread of cancer. Fat cells produce estrogen, a promotor of gynaecological cancers like breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer.

Second is the pro-inflammatory state that occurs in the body due to obesity. Increased inflammation increases free oxygen radicals, which damage cellular DNA and leads to cancer.

Also ReadWorld Cancer Day 2023: Expert Explains Various Causes Of Cancer

Other than that, obesity increases the risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease, which increases the risk of oesophagal cancer. Obesity causes fat deposition in the liver, causing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a major risk factor for liver cancer. Also, food that causes obesity, like red meat, is implicated in causing colon and stomach cancer.

Obesity After The Development Of Cancer

Being obese increases the risk of complications during cancer treatment. Cancer patients are generally advised to lead an active lifestyle and control body weight. Obesity also increases the risk of recurrence of cancer after treatment. Cancer patients are more likely to become obese as a result of inactivity, fatigue, muscle weakness, and neuropathy. Psychological factors like fear of exercising and feeling uncomfortable in public places for workouts also increase obesity.

How To Prevent Obesity-Induced Cancer

  • Reducing weight is one of the most important means to reduce the risk or recurrence of cancer, second only to smoking cessation. 
  • Be as lean as possible and maintain your body mass index between 18 and 24.
  • Be physically active and get some exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • Avoid high-density foods and sugary drinks.
  • Consume a range of whole grains, fruits, and veggies.
  • Avoid red meat (pork, beef, lamb) and processed foods.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or limit it to two drinks for males and one for women per day.

Also ReadEat More Protein To Reduce The Risk Of Obesity, Study Suggests

Diet Tips To Reduce obesity

  • Follow the 1-2-3 rule. Eat one portion of protein, two portions of carbohydrates like bread, roti or rice and three portions of non-starchy vegetables.
  • Avoid fruit juices, and prefer fresh fruits.
  • Practice reading labels on food packaging. Prefer products with whole grains like wheat, oats, brown rice and cereals and avoid refined flour. 
  • Your exercise time depends on what you do during the day. Persons with inactive jobs, like sitting in front of a computer for 10 hours a day, need more exercise than active persons.
  • Little things count, so take the stairs, park your vehicle away, and avoid texting or emailing people a short distance away.
  • Be a social animal, involve your friends and like-minded people in your workouts and set up weight goals.

Image Credits: freepik


All possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; however does not take any liability for the same. Using any information provided by the website is solely at the viewers’ discretion. In case of any medical exigencies/ persistent health issues, we advise you to seek a qualified medical practitioner before putting to use any advice/tips given by our team or any third party in form of answers/comments on the above mentioned website.

Related News