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The Link Between Obesity and Cancer - Obesity Related Cancers

April 5, 2022
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

The Link Between Obesity and Cancer

There is research suggesting obesity is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. This is likely because obesity can cause changes in the body that lead to inflammation and cancer development.  Sir Richard Doll and Richard Peto, 35% of cancer deaths in the USA might be linked to diet. This is particularly certain for endometrium and breast cancer. The Washington School of Medicine submitted a document that explains obesity accounts for about 20% of all cancer cases.

obesity and cancer

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a condition where a person has an abnormally high and unhealthy proportion of body fat. Body fat is important for energy storage, cushioning organs and body tissues, and regulating body temperature. However, when a person has too much body fat, it can increase the risk of health problems.

How does obesity increase cancer risk?

There are many ways that obesity can increase cancer risk. For example, obese people often have high levels of insulin and estrogen in their blood. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use sugar for energy. Some researchers believe that high levels of insulin may cause cancer cells to grow faster. Estrogen is a hormone that is involved in the development of some cancers.

There are many ways that estrogen can cause cancer cells to grow faster. One way is by increasing the number of growth factors in the cancer cells. Growth factors are proteins that help cells grow and divide. Another way estrogen can cause cancer cells to grow faster is by increasing the number of times the cells divide. Estrogen can also cause cancer cells to become more resistant to chemotherapy drugs.

obesity related cancers

Obesity can also cause changes in the cells and tissues of the body that can lead to cancer development. There is good evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing cancers of the pancreas, colon, rectum, breast, and uterus.


The most common obesity related cancers are:

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus)
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

While being overweight or obese is not the only cause of these cancers, it is a significant risk factor. For example, research suggests that being obese increases the risk of pancreatic cancer by around twofold. There are also likely to be other obesity-related cancers that have not yet been identified.


What can you do to reduce your risk of obesity-related cancers?

There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of obesity-related cancers. Some examples include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding smoking

These are all important steps that you can take to reduce your cancer risk. However, it is also important to remember that not everyone who is obese will develop cancer. There are many other factors that contribute to cancer development, and it is important to remember that you cannot control everything.

obesity causes cancer

According to the Mayo Clinic, 30 minutes a day of physical activity are recommended if you wish to keep your current body weight. However, if you are currently overweight, you should consult your physician for a personalized plan.

How many people have obesity related cancers?

It is difficult to estimate how many people have obesity related cancers, as not all cancers are reported. However, it is estimated that around 20% of all cancers in the United States are linked to obesity. This corresponds to around 300,000 cases each year. This number is likely to continue to increase as the prevalence of obesity increases. Obesity is a major public health problem, and more needs to be done to address it.


Here's a video by the University of Michigan, with more advice on how to improve your health to prevent cancer:

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. And be sure to check back soon for more cancer-related content.


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