Obesity and Cancer: What You Need to Know

JOggingBeware. Obesity can increase your risk of cancer.

Obesity is fast becoming one of the leading health concerns for people all over the world. This is not surprising since obesity and excess body fat is known to increase a person’s risk for serious medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Additionally, obesity may also increase the risk for several types of cancer.

Why is this so? Well, people who are overweight or obese have higher cancer risks since the more fat tissues a person have, the more hormones (such as insulin and estrogen) the body will produce. Increased levels of these hormones encourage the growth and proliferation of cancer cells in the body.?

Obesity in the US: Some Interesting Facts and Figures

The incidence of obesity is increasing at an alarming rate. From 1988 to 1994, 56% of adults age 20 years and older and 10% of children and teens between the ages 2 and 17 in the US were considered as either overweight or obese. However, based on the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), about 68% of adults and 17% of children and teens are now suffering from obesity.

Obesity increases medical costs. According to a study published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Health Economics, obesity raised the annual expenditures by $1,171 for men and $3,696 for women. In addition, it is also expected to increase the per capita medical expenditures among the uninsured by as much as 490%.

Obesity increases the risk for several types of cancer. Smoking has long been the leading preventable cause of cancer but obesity is now quickly taking its place. In fact, more than 50,000 new cases of cancer in women and 34,000 new cases in men in 2007 were directly attributed to obesity. 40% of esophageal and endometrial cancer cases were also linked to excess body weight. If this trend continues, experts predict that there will be more than 500,000 additional new cases of cancer in the US by 2030.?

Obesity increases the risk for cancer of the breast (in post-menopausal women), prostate, esophagus, kidney, colon and rectum, endometrium (lining of the uterus), pancreas, thyroid and gallbladder. In addition, some studies suggest that obesity may also be linked to ovarian, cervical and liver cancer and some types of lymphoma and leukemia as well.

Taking these things into consideration, losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight through proper diet and regular exercise may help reduce inflammation in your body and significantly lower your risk of developing several forms of cancer.