We know that obesity causes health problems, from diabetes and heart disease to high cholesterol problems. In this sense, a study by the New England Journal of Medicine , after analyzing about 1,000 cases, has indicated a close link between obesity and 8 different types of cancer, among which are the following:
- Stomach cancer.
- Liver cancer.
- Cancer of the gallbladder and pancreas.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Thyroid cancer.
- Meningioma (brain tumor).
Researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization, meanwhile, have also previously linked obesity to 5 other types of cancer, such as breast cancer (in postmenopausal women), kidney cancer, the uterine, the esophageal and the colorectal.
Discover if an unhealthy body weight (based on BMI) can be related to an increased risk of cancer.
How is weight linked to different types of cancer?
Although not completely proven, research suggests that obesity itself may be a cause of different types of cancer.
According to Graham Colditz, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington School of Medicine and president of the IARC Working Group, when they examined animal models and human data, evidence was found of a cause and effect relationship between the Cancer and obesity.
Our body is made up of millions of cells that support the internal organs and maintain the functioning of our body. Generally, in a healthy body, when cells are damaged and die, new cells grow and divide to take their place.
Cancer occurs when this process does not work as it should and the damaged cells do not die. When the new cells form and divide without stopping, the result is the emergence of cancer.
What effect does obesity have on hormones and inflammation?
There are several reasons to think that extra weight increases the risk of suffering from one of the 13 types of cancer mentioned above. Hormones and inflammation are two of the main causes.
1.Hormones and cancer
Women’s bodies naturally produce estrogen, a sex hormone that helps maintain sexual functioning and healthy bones. The problem is that fatty tissue creates too much estrogen, which, in high levels, is associated with cancer.
According to Colditz, another hormone that contributes to the emergence of cancer is insulin. While the purpose of insulin is to help the body convert sugar from carbohydrates into energy, obesity increases the risk of developing insulin resistance. In this sense, producing large amounts of insulin can lead to carcinogenesis.
2.Inflammation and cancer
Obesity can also cause chronic inflammation. Normally, inflammation is the way the body fights wounds, infection and disease, according to what the National Cancer Institute says.
However, the most obese people often produce inflammatory reactions even without injury, which over time causes cell damage. However, this hypothesis is not yet completely clear, so it must be interpreted with some caution.
Can lose weight help prevent cancer?
Karen Collins, nutrition counselor at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), notes that maintaining an adequate weight is vital to your health. According to him, 20% of cancer risk is related to obesity, although exactly how or why it is not tested.
There is a misconception that people can eat what they want and not gain weight, as long as the food is healthy. But, if you are adding additional calories to your meals beyond those you burn, you will be storing them as extra fats.
Following this line of argument, when the Colditz team examined patients who had undergone bariatric surgery, which tended to maintain weight loss, they observed a lower risk of breast and endometrial cancer.
The ideal according to Colditz, to prevent cancer, is to avoid weight gain, or lose weight if necessary. For this, the following is recommended:
- Do exercise to eliminate fat.
- Regulate hormone levels
- Consume adequate portions in your meals, according to what the IARC establishes.
- Incorporate foods to fight cancer in your menu.
The study developed by Colditz found that obesity itself has its own impact on the risk of suffering from any of the 13 types of cancer, regardless of the nutritional quality of the food you eat. On the other hand, he stressed that people who suffer from obesity have a higher risk of suffering from cancer.