What exactly is known today, about the relationship between obesity and cancer? Well, in contrast with the last century, quite a lot. Obesity and being overweight are both associated with dramatic increase of risk factors for a large number of cancer types. These include cancer of the gallbladder, thyroid, kidneys, esophagus, pancreas, but even more common is cancer of the uterus, rectum and colon. In fact, this list is only the primary cancers associated with obesity and overweight persons today, but future medical research will probably find others.
Current Research About Cancer and Obesity Today
Data from the National Cancer Institute in 2007 makes some shocking predictions concerning the links between cancer and obesity. This recent study estimates that 4 percent of new male cancer cases are related to obesity, approximately 34,000 patients in number. This same study shows a larger percentage of women also fell into this category, 7 percent of new female cancer cases were linked to obesity, or approximately 50,500 women. These numbers were spread out over a variety of cancer types, but as many as 40 percent of esophageal and endometrial cancers could be linked directly to being overweight or obese.
In lament’s terms, the data projects that obesity related cancer rates will continue to rise, creating upwards of 500,000 new cancer cases by 2030 in the United States. Women patients will easily be double in numbers compared to men by 2030, as well. This gender specific increase in risk factors is important, because women are more likely to have the possible mechanisms physically that are seen as linking cancer and obesity.
Possible Mechanisms Linking Cancer and Obesity
There are several mechanisms thought to link obesity and being overweight with increased cancer risk. Fatty tissues produce estrogen in excessive amounts, creating the higher levels that are associated with risk factors for a variety of cancer types. This is especially true for endometrial and breast cancer. Also obese individuals generally have increased levels for insulin and the insulin like growth factor-1 or IGF-1, these cause complications which may promote the development of some types of cancerous tumors. Also overweight individuals often have chronic low level inflammation, which have been associated with higher cancer risk factors. Other possible mechanisms associated with cancers include altered immune response and oxidative stress.
How Breast Cancer is Linked to Obesity in Women
What is known about the relationship between obesity and breast cancer today? In simplest terms, we know that women suffer from cancer types that are more likely to be associated with obesity and being overweight, the most significant one being breast cancer. Higher risks for postmenopausal breast cancer are probably due to greater estrogen levels in overweight women. After menopause is fatty tissues become the primary source of estrogen, as the ovaries have stopped producing hormones. Since all obese women have more fatty tissues, their bodies have much higher levels of estrogen, which can lead to more rapid growth in breast tumors. The relationship between obesity and breast cancer risks maybe related to many other things, but research has not isolated them all. Each individual woman must ascertain their unique physical health on a personal basis, so they can understand what factors are most likely having an impact on their potential of developing breast cancer.
So what is the relationship between breast cancer and obesity?
When asking this question, the simple truth is that medical science does not know. There is conflicting information so far, as different research has drawn very differing sets of data and conclusions based on the information gathered.
Numerous studies have found that being overweight or obese create moderate increased risk factors for breast cancer, and this is mainly for postmenopausal women. These same sets of data indicate that women at the highest risk are in two main groups, those who have never had menopausal hormonal therapy treatments and women with tumors expressing both progesterone and estrogen receptors simultaneously. Yet there are contrasting studies indicating that obesity and being overweight are associated with lower risk factors in premenopausal breast cancer. What is understood is that different stages of life, have independent risk factors for women and these may have great impact on the individual.
The relationship between breast cancer and obesity maybe linked to race, ethnicity and certain genetic predispositions. There is a limited amount of evidence that indicates such risk factors are lower for Hispanic and African American women, but higher among white women. This does not eliminate the factors related to weight gain and age specific risks that women of all ethnicity share. All human beings should consider how their own weight impacts their overall mental and physical well being. Being overweight or obese can lead to many other unwanted health complications, even if cancer may or may not be one that is experienced by the individual in question.
Being Obese or Overweight is not Healthy
What is known about the relationship between obesity and being overweight, is that it can have a dramatic impact on your physical health. This means it probably contributes to all health risk factors, so this includes cancer or anything else. All health relies on the body being able to heal itself and this can be negatively impacted by obesity or being overweight. Proper diet and exercise are the best ways to keep weight in balance, so it is possible for anyone to manage their individual weight gain.
If you are trying to create a healthy lifestyle that does not promote higher risk factors for cancer, losing a few pounds cannot hurt. In fact, it might be and important step that can help prevent many future health problems within your lifetime. Take control of your health and do it holistically. Make sure that your diet is healthy and that you are able to get enough exercise, so that obesity or being overweight never needs to be an issue in your overall lifestyle. This is the best way to be proactive and preventative, when it comes to higher cancer risk.
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