The Link Between Obesity and Cancer

As the obesity epidemic soars across the western world, our lives are exponentially affected by an increasingly unhealthy public. Whether we struggle with our own weight or witness loved ones do so, chances are we are near and dear to someone who is considered obese. Extra weight is not merely an appearance issue. It affects every aspect of our lives, and studies show obesity to be linked to one of the most feared diseases known to man.

The link between cancer and obesity has been common knowledge for over a decade. According to the most recent 2014 Cancer Progress Research report from the American Association for Cancer Research, obesity ranks second only to smoking as a leading correlating factor in cancer risk.

For an individual to be considered obese, they must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 30 percent of Americans are considered obese. If the trend continues, it’s possible for half the population to be obese by 2030. This gives our society a unique battle to wage against our own waistlines, the causes of obesity, and the factors that contribute to disease.

Extra weight contributes to a number of health related concerns, but the National Cancer Institute reports nearly 84,000 cancer cases related to obesity each year. To top off the terrifying correlation, obesity can also hinder treatment effectiveness. As treatments are studied and implemented, developers can’t be certain how treatments will effect those carrying more weight than others.

Also, due to elevated ill-health related possibilities and potential self image issues associated to seeking treatment, obese patients with cancer may have more difficulty diagnosing the condition. Their weight may not only contribute to increased risk, but may also delay timely treatment.

Obesity is shown to be most related to colorectal cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer, and cancers of the endometrium, kidney, gallbladder and thyroid. Research also displays links between obesity and cancers of the liver, cervix, myeloma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Contributing factors that relate to higher cancer risks are:

  • Excess estrogen is produced by fat tissue. High levels of estrogen have been linked to higher risks of breast, endometrial, and other cancers.
  • Often times overweight people have increased levels of insulin. Elevated insulin is shown to promote tumors.
  • Hormones produced by fat cells may affect the rate of cell growth. Leptin, more common in obese people, is shown to inspire excessive cell growth. The hormone adiponectin, less likely in obese people, may hinder cell growth.
  • People with excessive weight issues typically struggle with increased levels of inflammation. Increased inflammation is shown to boost the likelihood of numerous disease-causing conditions, including cancer.

Considering these alarming statistics, losing weight and improving overall health can decrease cancer risk. If you or a loved one is obese, it’s time to see past limits on the path to improved wellness. With the possibility of greater cancer risk looming above and beyond other motivational weight loss aspects, take the time now to protect yourself, improve your health, and encourage your loved ones to do so also.

Here are life saving tips to implement today.

  • Consult a medical professional and nutritionist to discuss a diet and exercise routine. Open additional dialogue regarding causes of obesity and realistic paths to overcome the condition.
  • Eliminate processed foods and refined carbohydrates from your diet.
  • Undertake a relaxation/wellness routine. Take time for yourself. Incorporate meditation into your daily life.
  • Gain professional mental health support to work through possible emotional causes of overeating.

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