It is well-established that obesity can place a significant amount of strain on joints and also lead to several chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However, recent studies now show a possible correlation between obesity and an increased risk of developing certain cancers.
This discovery is especially important to the 160 million American adults who are considered either obese or borderline obese. To that point, to be considered obese, an individual would need to have a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or higher and considerably more body fat than lean body tissue. These factors, especially among individuals under the age of 40, have been linked to several cancers.
How Does Obesity Lead to Higher Risk of Developing Certain Cancers?
There is a plurality of things that can cause one to become obese and, in turn, increase his or her risk of developing certain cancers, some of which include environmental, emotional, genetic, hormonal, and even cultural factors.
No matter what causes the weight gain, the extra pounds can increase the risk of developing certain cancers by contributing to the following:
- Increased production of insulin and IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1)
- An increase in low-level inflammation
- Increased production of the hormone estrogen
- An increase in fat cells that regulate and support cancer-related cell growth
It is important to note that yo-yo dieting and other factors that can result in frequent changes in body weight can also increase the risk of developing certain cancers. Having said that, the best thing that you can do to lower your chances of being diagnosed with most cancers is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
What Type of Cancers Have Been Linked to Obesity?
According to a study conducted by Norway’s University of Bergen, individuals who become obese before the age of 40 are likely to experience the following increases relative to the development of certain cancers:
- 70 percent chance for endometrial cancer
- 58 percent chance for renal cell carcinoma
- 29 percent chance for colorectal cancer
The same study conducted by the University of Bergen revealed that men and women who are obese have a 15 percent higher chance of developing all obesity-related cancers. One particular form of cancer that is becoming increasingly common among those who are obese is pancreatic cancer. It is worth noting that the five-year survival rate for this form of cancer, even when detected early, is only seven percent.
What You Should Know About Pancreatic Cancer and Obesity
Studies show that individuals who are obese, especially those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol, are at high risk of developing pancreatic cancer. It is also worth noting that new cases involving this specific cancer have been on the rise since 1990.
According to a study published by Newsmax Health, data compiled from 195 countries shows that there was a 130 percent increase in new pancreatic cancer cases between 1990 and 2017. In most cases, those who develop pancreatic cancer do not know that they have the disease as it is typically asymptomatic in its early stages. It is only after the disease has advanced that most people report experiencing symptoms, some of which include
- Back pain
- Stomach pain
- Feeling bloated
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Discolored stool
Because pancreatic cancer can present itself with little to no warning, most physicians will encourage individuals who are obese to consider losing weight as a way to reduce their chance of developing the disease.
All in all, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that carrying too much weight, along with causing joint pain and cardiovascular problems, can lead to a higher risk of developing a variety of cancers. If you believe that you are obese or borderline obese, it may be a good idea to make losing weight a priority to help improve your overall health.