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Does Being Overweight Increase Cancer Risk?

Nowadays, when many Western countries suffer from epidemics of overweight and obesity, and other countries follow this example, the increase in overweight-related diseases became an alarming reality. The risk of many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer including breast, colon, rectum, endometrium, gallbladder, and kidney may increase due to being overweight and obesity may. Still, many overweight people are not aware that not only their bones, joints, and vascular system are at stake.
We know that it is hard to believe and hard to get into action, hence we decided to prepare this short compilation of facts regarding the relationship between being overweight, obesity, and cancer.

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About 20% of all Cancers Are Related to Body Weight

Seems shocking, isn’t it? However, it is as shocking as reality can be. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, there were an estimated 18 million cancer cases around the world in 2018, of these 9.5 million cases were in men and 8.5 million in women.

Overweight and unhealthy habits such as smoking or excessive alcohol drinking, cause up to 20% of cancer cases in the US. The recommendations for being in a healthy weight and cancer risk reduction are comprised of being physically active, eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit and pulses such as beans, limiting ‘fast foods’ and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars, and limiting sugar-sweetened drinks.

Many Types of Cancer Are Associated with Obesity or Being Overweight

According to a study by American Cancer Society researchers published in 2018 in the prestigious medical journal JAMA Oncology determined that each year from 2011 to 2015, almost 37,700 cancer cases in men in the U.S. (4.7% of all cancer cases excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers) and 74,700 cancer cases in women (9.6%) age 30 years or older were connected to excess body weight.

Not only many types of cancer are related to being overweight or obese but also cancers caused by unnecessary fat are among the most common in the developed world.
Among women, being overweight may lead to breast cancer after menopause, cervix cancer, and uterus cancer. In men, obesity or overweight significantly increases the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. The list is long though; it includes bowel, womb, esophageal (food pipe), pancreatic, kidney, liver, upper stomach (gastric cardia), gallbladder, ovarian, thyroid, myeloma (a type of blood cancer), and meningioma (a type of brain tumor). 

Being overweight or obese is not the only factor. However, they are among the risk factors for those common cancers. Not caring about your weight, may bring upon yourself a lengthy struggle for health or even life.

READ: The 5 Most Common Cancer Causes

How Does Body Weight Affect Cancer Risk?

If there is too much fat in the body, then the signals it sends around the body can cause damage. These signals affect growth hormones, inflammation, and sex hormones. Excessive body fat can cause levels of insulin and other growth factors to rise, and cells may divide more often accordingly. This increases the possibility that cancer cells will develop. Likewise, when there are too many fat cells in the body, specialized immune cells go to the area, possibly to remove dead and dying fat cells. This can cause inflammation. When cells divide faster because of inflammation, it can increase the risk of cancer after a long time it repeats. Lastly, after menopause, estrogen made by fat cells can make cells divide faster in the breasts and womb, which increases the risk of abnormal cell development and cancer.

How to Avoid Overweight-related Cancer?

There are some online cancer risk calculators which estimate your cancer risk according to data you give about your BMI level, tobacco and alcohol consumption, dietary habit, physical activity frequency, and family history. They are not the tools that sating you will have or not have cancer but, as you will see in these calculators, risk factors are undeniable. If you have BMI over 25, you are considered overweight, and you need to lose weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Cancer screening may help you to learn your current situation if you are in doubt about having the risk factors of cancer you may see a doctor. CT scans can help doctors find cancer and show things like a tumor's shape and size. The scan is painless and takes about 10 to 30 minutes to complete.

We acknowledge that some cases of overweight patients or even people suffering from obesity are genetically induced or caused by medicines and other medical conditions such as hormonal problems. Still, it is always better to ask your doctor for a bit of advice – maybe there is a way of fighting with overweight caused by other factors? Keep in mind that you do all of this to avoid numerous types of cancer related to your extra kilos.

READ: Things You Should Know about Cancer

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