Health Female Adda
1 year ago
World Cancer Day: Can obesity cause cancer?

Obesity is a dreaded word as it spells a lifestyle of strict diets and stricter exercise regimens to lose weight! Being obese not only restricts you physically but also puts you at risk of diseases. While the role of obesity in increasing your risk of diabetes and heart disease is known, most of us are still clueless about its role in cancer. We asked Dr Ramen Goel, Director, Center of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mumbai and Dr Praveen Garg, Sr Consultant (Surgical Oncology), Indraprastha Apollo Hospital to find out whether there is a link. Here is what they have to say.

Does obesity put you at risk of cancer?

Yes, obesity can cause cancer. Moreover, if you are obese, then the diagnosis of cancer is also affected, which makes it difficult to treat and also lowers the chances of survival. When it comes to cancer due to obesity it could be either due to hormones or mechanical problems. Also read about are you likely to get cancer?

Cancers caused by hormonal issues: The types of cancer that are hormone-dependent include breast, uterus and prostate cancer. This is because the fat cells in the body process some of these are hormones and can lead to cancer in the long run due to excessive stimulation. In overweight women, excess estrogen in the bloodstream because of hormonal triggers can put the cells under pressure. The hyperstimulation of these cells leads to the formation of cancer cells such as forms lumps in the case of breast cancer or a tumour in the uterus. In men, high levels of testosterone can increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Obesity also impacts the diagnosis. If a small lump is present, it can be detected easily in a person with the ideal body fat percentage.  However, the same is not true if you are obese as the excess fat in the body can mask the lump and you may not feel it. Hence, diagnosis is usually done at a later stage in people who are obese.

Mechanical-reflux disease: Unlike hormones, obesity can also lead to other types of cancer that are regulated by the mechanical triggers or refluxes. For example, if you are overweight with fat accumulation around the abdominal region, then it can increase the risk of oesophagal cancer. The same rule applies to the liver, where fat in the liver might lead to fatty liver damaging the liver, increasing the risk of cirrhosis and cancer. However, it is seen that losing weight can significantly lower the risk of cancer, especially hormone-dependent cancer. Also read about 22 ways fat can kill you.

Image Source: Shutterstock.

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