Huge Obesity Related Cancer Numbers

Obesity and Cancer

Obesity and Cancer

There is a well known link between obesity and increased cancer risk, particularly with breast cancer. New research has highlighted the astonishing figures associated with cancer promoted by obesity.

The study looked at the body mass index of people from 184 countries in 2002 and contrasted it with cancer rates for those people in 2012. The researchers focussed on cancers which are linked to obesity — breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer. They estimate that 3.6 percent of cancer cases were caused by obesity. If you take that percentage and extrapolate it to global cancer statistics, you are looking at as much as half a million cancer cases triggered by obesity, each year.

Women are more likely to get cancer if they are obese, with 5.4 percent of women presenting with cancers caused by obesity. The United States has the highest rate of obesity related cancers, with over 100,000 in 2012. Postmenopausal breast cancers and some uterine cancers are very closely tied to obesity, which explains the higher percentage for women.

Researchers partially understand why obesity causes cancer. Obesity creates various unusual actions within the human body, including an overload of certain hormones. Those hormones can contribute to cancer, particularly breast cancer. One of those hormones is insulin-like growth factor 1, which has been linked to pancreatic cancer.

Doctors recommend a healthy diet and exercise to reduce your risk of getting cancer.

Link Between Cancer and Obesity Examined

Obesity and Cancer

Obesity and Cancer

A new study has reaffirmed the link between obesity and cancer.

The study, published in the Lancet Journal, reaffirms that a high body-mass index of 25 kg/m2 or greater is associated with increased risk of cancer. Researchers believe that in 2012 nearly 500,000 cases of cancer were attributable to high BMI around the world. The vast majority of these obesity related cancers occur in the United States and Europe, because of the higher levels of obesity found in those locations.

Women were more likely to be affected by cancer relating to obesity, particularly breast cancer. The most common forms of cancer caused by obesity were corpus uteri, postmenopausal breast, and colon cancers. These forms accounted for 63ยท6% of cancers and are attributable to high BMI.

The research looked at cancer rates in over 184 countries and found that obesity was associated with 5.4 percent of cancer in women and 1.9 percent in men during 2012. Those percentages are higher in developed countries with excess weight causing 8 percent of cancers in women and 3 percent in men.

The cancer rates were lowest in parts of Africa, due to lower calorie intake.

According to the researchers:

These findings emphasise the need for a global effort to abate the increasing numbers of people with high BMI. Assuming that the association between high BMI and cancer is causal, the continuation of current patterns of population weight gain will lead to continuing increases in the future burden of cancer.

Calorie Intake and Breast Cancer

Weight Gain Breast Cancer

Weight Gain Breast Cancer


A new study in the United States has highlighted the role that calorie intake may play in the development of breast cancer.

Researchers discovered that when radiotherapy was being used to treat breast cancer in women with a specific form of the disease, the treatment was more effective if their calorie intake was lower.

The “triple negative” form of breast cancer is a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer and affects about 20% of all women with breast cancer. This form of cancer also tends to be found more often in young women, below 40 years of age.

Women with this form of breast cancer often see it spread very quickly with stubborn tumors returning after treatment.

Researchers aren’t sure why a reduced calorie intake helps prevent the tumors return, but it may be to do with reduced calorie intake changing the tissue surrounding the tumor.

The problem is that many of the treatments which women are given to help them fight cancer promote weight gain. Treatments like hormonal therapy and steroids which are used to slow the growth of tumors can increase weight gain by slowing metabolism, making the tumors more resilient!

We know from other studies that being overweight is actually linked to breast cancer if you have a particular genetic marker. Many other forms of cancer are also linked to being over weight, so there are plenty of reasons to maintain your fitness and weight.

Studies also show that breast cancer treatment is less effective if you are overweight and people who gain a lot of weight during their breast cancer treatment are likely to have worse outcomes.

These studies have made researchers more interested in the role of metabolism in the treatment of cancer. If they can make sure the treatments don’t adversely affect metabolism and induce weight gain in patients, then better outcomes for patients are more likely.

Dr Nicole Simone, the study leader of the most recent research says that from the findings: ‘We found that the diet turned on a programme that protected mice from metastatic disease,’. The study was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, and found that in the dieting mice, cancer cells decreased their production of microRNAs 17 and 20 (miR 17/20).

Those two molecules play an important role in influencing disease pathways. In the triple negative breast cancer patients, this group of MicroRNAs is usually larger.

Researchers used mice in the study and found that the mice who undertook radiation and calorie restriction had the best outcomes.

This latest research is only one of many studies that backup the role of a healthy diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. In 2009 a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) found that:

restricting consumption of glucose, the most common dietary sugar, can extend the life of healthy human-lung cells and speed the death of precancerous human-lung cells, reducing cancer’s spread and growth rate.

Which researchers saw as another indicator that moderating calorie intake helps prevent cancer.

However this is not an argument for unhealthy dieting, but rather an argument for maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, exercising and avoiding processed foods.

The excess weight and cancer link is not a new one either. In 1987 studies were suggesting that people watch their weight: “a complete review of the data suggests that reducing caloric intake and relative body weight may lead to a considerable decrease in cancer risk in humans.”

Obesity Breast Cancer Linked Confirmed

Overweight Women and Breast Cancer

Overweight Women and Breast Cancer

Another study has been released that looks at the link between obesity and breast cancer, this time finding a genetic marker that increases the risk of cancer. Researchers found that white women with the genetic marker are 70% more likely to have breast cancer than those without it. Additionally, women with the marker saw their breast cancer risk increased by a massive 210% if they were overweight or obese. The genetic marker in question is within the mTOR gene and it’s identification gives researchers some hope that women with high risk of breast cancer being notified early and alert to the risk.

Researchers have established a link between obesity and cancer in general, with a number of studies concluding that people who are obese are more likely to die from cancer. Obese people have “death rates from all cancers combined that were 52 percent higher (for men) and 62 percent higher (for women) than the rates in men and women of normal weight”.

So we know that weight loss is a good idea if you are interested in preventing cancer in general, but for women with this genetic marker, it is even more crucial that they get their weight under control. Once additional studies have confirmed the role that this genetic marker has, doctors will be able to screen women for it at an early age so they can change their life style and be extremely vigilant about breast cancer.

The genetic marker appears to increase risk of a particular form of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer. This type of breast cancer does not respond to hormonal breast cancer treatment so is considered generally tougher to treat. Overweight or obese white women with the marker are eight times more likely to have this form of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer develop.

This is not the first time being overweight has been linked to breast cancer with earlier research papers backing up the findings. Both the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Cancer Research Fund concluded that there is “convincing” evidence that being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk after menopause. The American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study-II found that weight gain as an adult increases that risk for when you are older. Women who gain 60 or more pounds after age 18 have twice the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer later in life. The increase in risk is thought to be due to higher levels of estrogen, which is held in fat tissue.

A 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that 68 percent of U.S. adults age 20 years and older are overweight or obese. That is up from close to 56%, 20 years ago. The number of overweight children is also increasing in the United States with an extraordinary 17% considered to be obese. Being overweight or obese doesn’t just increase the risk of various forms of cancer, but also heart disease and diabetes which are big killers in the United States.

Being overweight has already been associated with increase in risk of other forms of cancer including cancers of the Esophagus, Pancreas, Colon and rectum, Endometrium (lining of the uterus), Kidney, Thyroid and Gallbladder. According to cancer.gov, in 2007 about 34,000 new cases of cancer in men (4 percent) and 50,500 in women (7 percent) were due to obesity in the United States.

However there are still many questions to answer regarding weight gain and breast cancer risk. Researchers are trying to understand how the relationship between obesity and breast cancer may be impacted by the stage of life in which a woman gains weight. Gaining weight during your adult life, from 18 to the ages of 50 and 60, has been confirmed to increase risk of breast cancer after menopause.

The most recent study looked at 1300 white women and 1300 black women living on the Eastern coast of the United States, around New York and New Jersey. About half the women in each racial group had breast cancer and the women ranged in age from 20 to 75 years old.

Interestingly, the marker appeared to only increase breast cancer risk for white women which means the impact of this marker is tied to ethnicity. The mTOR gene is an integral part of cell growth and blood vessel formation within the human body. The gene can be more active from excessive energy intake, which is where the overall number of calories that overweight women take in could be playing a role.

The gene is regulated by energy intake, so when women eat large amounts of food and signal the gene it may be promoting cancer growth.

The research is at an early stage but the potential for screening and potentially gene therapy makes it a very exciting development.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month!

Exercise to Avoid Cancer

Exercise to Avoid Cancer

Dr Rebecca Moss has written a fantastic article for Slate magazine, aimed at raising awareness for one of the most preventable forms of cancer, colorectal cancer. Dr Moss specializes in gastrointestinal cancers at the research level so has a professional understanding of the cause, symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis of the disease.

Her advice is thorough but can be summarized in a few main points. If you wish to avoid dying from colorectal cancer and want to minimize risk:

  1. Have a colonoscopy when your doctor tells you to so you find tumors and polyps before they become cancerous
  2. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight!

As Dr Moss points out in the article, unfortunately many Americans are not getting enough exercise. In fact the vast majority of people don’t get enough exercise with only 1 in 5 exercising enough. That is a staggering statistic and of great concern to researchers who know that exercise is a key to avoiding this form of cancer.

Meanwhile plenty of Americans are still taking vitamins and other health supplements in the mistaken belief that it will protect them from cancer.

So exercise is really a massive factor with regular exercise helping to prevent some of the most dangerous diseases that face adults in America – Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Colorectal Cancer.

Unfortunately due to the explosion of obesity in the United States, colorectal cancer is a common form of the disease. The article also points out that diabetes increase the risk of colorectal cancer by an astonishing 30%. The horror of these statistics is that these diseases can be avoided with regular exercise and a healthy diet. The diseases are also greatly impacting on aging baby boomers, who having reached retirement age are instead facing horrible health problems because they haven’t been exercising with regularity in the last few decades.

So ladies and gentlemen, takes the doctors advice, get out and about. With exercise you will not only be reducing the risk of diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease, you will also look and feel better. It’s a win/win situation so get off the couch and enjoy a longer and happier life.