Which cancer is associated with obesity?

Which cancer is associated with obesity? The obesity epidemic is a cause of concern for the prevalence of various non communicable diseases like hypertension, and diabetes. The various causes that have resulted in increased obese people are sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy dietary habits. The interrelationship between obesity and cancer has been known in the medical world for a while now. Several mechanisms have been suggested to prove this correlation. The fact that obesity is becoming more common worldwide and a corresponding rise in cancer cases is a call for concern to address this issue. What is Obesity? Obesity is a term used to signify excessive deposition of fat cells in the body. Individuals with Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30 are considered to be obese while a BMI of more than 25 labels a person as overweight. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a standard formulation to calculate the fat accumulation with respect to height and weight. The brighter side is that obesity is preventable and can be overcome with rigorous workout and dietary regime if not associated with a disease. If a pathological condition is involved, then a simultaneous medical advice is recommended. How does obesity lead to cancer? Several mechanisms have been proposed to confirm this correlation. Various researchers have proposed certain hypothesis. The most prevalent ones are discussed here:
    • Hormones: Adipose tissue releases a hormone called leptin that regulates hunger by suppression of appetite and boosting metabolism.  A higher level of leptin seen in various obese cancer patients. Leptin hormone interferes with the natural cell cycle that leads to their destruction and contributing to cellular proliferation, eventually resulting in formation of a tumor.
    • Breast Cancer: Obese females are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer especially at a menopausal age because of low levels of a protein called CD36 that is responsible for cellular interactions in the breast. This decrease in protein results in higher collagen deposition, ultimately disturbing the collagen adipose ratio, suggestive of breast cancer risk.  Another possible mechanism for breast cancer associated with obesity is an elevated estrogen (hormone) that is secreted by adipose tissue.
    • Insulin Resistance: High insulin levels and insulin resistance are very much prevalent in obese individuals. Insulin resistance often results in free insulin growth factors in the blood that has been linked to tumor growth especially in the breasts and colon.
    • Chronic Inflammation:  An excess adipose tissue is characterized by migration of the macrophages to that particular localized area. Adipose tissue also releases interferons, tumor necrosis factor and other inflammatory mediators that are released in the blood to fight acute and chronic inflammation. A constant presence of these cytokines in the blood stimulates cellular proliferation and ultimately cancerous cells.
Obese individuals are more likely to develop which cancer?
    • Gall Bladder Cancer
    • Liver Cancer
    • Breast cancer (Especially in postmenopausal women)
    • Colorectal cancer (common in men)
    • Endometrial cancer
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Stomach cancer
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Esophageal cancer
    • Renal Cancer
    • Thyroid Cancer
    • Multiple Myeloma
It is worth noting that that all obese individuals do not land up with cancer as there are multiple factors that result in the occurrence of a disease. While some of the prevalent mechanisms have been discussed here, there might be many more such hypothesis to suggest the correlation between obesity and cancer. Irrespective of the underlying mechanism involved, it is an established fact that having excess fatty deposition on our body can be detrimental for our health on various planes. It is advisable to be vigilant of our weight and maintain optimum fitness levels.

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