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Is Obesity Behind The Increase In Cancers?

Posted in Weight Loss 21 Jul, 2015

Cancer rates are heading one way - up. At the same time our nation's waistline is expanding. Is this coincidence?

Research from 5 million GP records cross-referenced a high body mass index with 22 of the most common cancers and found that they could be linked. The World Health Organisation's research also points towards obesity and cancer as bedfellows.

It sounds bad, but could this be good? Surely it means that we can lower our risk of cancer by maintaining a healthy weight.

How Obesity Affects Cancer

Body fat increases the risk of many diseases. It's thought that 1/20 cancers are affected by obesity. Cancer Research UK says that extra fat in the body affects both hormone and growth factors, and they in turn influence how our cells work. For example, fat changes sex hormone levels. It also affects insulin hormones. Overweight folk generally have more insulin in their systems, and high insulin levels are a common feature of cancer.

Which Cancers Does Obesity Affect?

- Breast cancer after menopause
- Bowel cancer
- Womb cancer
- Oesophageal cancer (throat/windpipe)
- Stomach cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Liver cancer
- And likely gallbladder, ovarian and prostate cancers.


Apple-shaped people are more at risk, because their fat is stored around the waistline. Most of the obesity-affected cancers are around the stomach area indicating that fat affects nearby organs. Research hasn't shown us why yet, but it may be because fat releases chemicals, and these head directly to nearby body parts faster than a teenager to the Primark sale.

What Other Problems Does Obesity Create?

Obesity is a massive problem, no pun intended, because people with high BMIs are more likely to suffer from heart disease, circulatory problems, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, depression and social anxiety.

What Else Causes Cancer?

- Genetics. Some people are more prone to cancer than others if there is a family history.
- Smoking. It's a leading cause of lung, mouth, throat cancer and potentially other cancers too. We have more information on our smoking page about how to stop smoking and what treatments are available.
- Living longer. The population is ageing, and odds are if you live longer you are more likely to develop a disease.
- Better diagnosis. As our scientific knowledge progresses, so does our ability to diagnose disease. Cancers are identifiable today that weren't in the past.


On The Flip Side

It looks as though obese folk are more likely to live longer after chemotherapy than slimmer patients, but only by 2.5 months. Doctor's hypothesise this is because fatter bodies are better at tolerating the treatment.

It's Sad Really...

Because obesity is avoidable. People are not born fat, and although certain drugs and illness can cause weight gain, simply eating too much and not exercising is the main reason for our nation's weight gain.

A large percent of the population is overweight. It's sad to think that we are accepting that as the norm. Our lifestyles certainly need a change, and if cancer rates are linked to obesity, then a good diet is more important than ever before. We have more information about effective weight loss methods to help you change your lifestyle. Visit our weight loss page to see how we can help you today.

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