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