Obesity and cancer


Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30, while having a BMI between 25.9-29.9 is considered as being overweight. Obesity is the second leading cause of death in the USA, meanwhile heart and vessel diseases due to being overweight and unhealthy lifestyle choices are the leading causes of death worldwide. Obesity and being overweight kill more people worldwide than hunger and being underweight.

Obesity and being overweight are related to many different diseases affecting all of the organs in the body. Some organs in the body are more significantly affected by obesity – these are the heart, vessels and the liver. Moreover, studies have also linked obesity to cancer. Obesity not only increases the overall risk of developing cancer, but it  also affects the progression of an already existing cancer in the body.

Research has found obesity to especially increase the risk of getting pancreatic cancer – one of the deadliest types of cancer with a very poor survival rate. In patients with pancreatic cancer, obesity itself was found to be an indicator of a poorer outcome regarding treatment and survival.

Likewise, studies have found obesity to affect the survival-rates of breast cancer – one of the most common cancers among women living in Western countries. Obese and overweight women with breast cancer have a poorer prognosis and survival rate compared to women with a normal weight who have breast cancer.

A recent study has discovered that a high fat diet increased the progression of prostate cancer. High fat diets were found to promote metastasis and thereby the progression of prostate-cancer.

Obesity increases the risks of getting different types of serious diseases including cancer and is therefore important to avoid. Obesity can be due to lifestyle choices but also due to genetic dispositions. Some people have a higher disposition to gain weight than others which can be due to genetics or differences in metabolism. Metabolic or genetic diseases causing obesity should always be cleared and treated. However, factors such as eating habits and healthy lifestyle choices are under our own will and self-control. High fat diets should be avoided even if one is of a normal weight as studies have linked high fat diets to an increase in cancer progression.

by Adile Orhan


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