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Obesity Linked To 13 Types Of Cancer

Obesity Prevention Advertorial. Photo credit: UK Cancer Research Institute

The recent advertisement on obesity by the UK Cancer Research Institute as the second leading preventable cause of cancer after smoking sparked a conversation the implications of the announcement. While it was criticised by some as a subtle act of body shaming, this article will focus on the message they have passed across.

Obesity is simply having excess unhealthy body fat. It is usually measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI), that is, the person’s weight divided by the person’s height (kg/m2). When one’s BMI gets to 30, that person is said to be obese.

Although it is not clear how it causes cancer, this urgent announcement has its root in observational studies. These studies have shown that people who are obese have four times chance of developing 13 types of cancer. These cancer include Endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus); Esophageal adenocarcinoma, Gastric cardia cancer (upper part of the stomach); liver cancer; renal cell cancer; breast cancer; meningioma (brain tumor); colorectal cancer; thyroid cancer; pancreatic cancer; gallbladder cancer; multiple myeloma and ovarian cancer.

Being Overweight And Cancer. Photo credit: Cancer Research UK

Fat sends signals to the body. This, in turn, dictates reactions in the cell and reproductive process. As the US National Cancer Institute explains,

“So fat doesn’t just sit there doing nothing. It’s active, telling your cells what to do. And if there is too much fat in the body, then the signals it sends around the body can cause damage. It’s likely that this is how obesity raises the risk of cancer”.

Research has given three explanations for the trigger: growth hormones, inflammation, sex hormones.Fortunately, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can prevent these cancers.

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