Overweight And Cancer Risk

Choose the topic:

• Pathogenesis
• Types of cancer

Over the past several decades the number of people with excess body weight has been increasing. About 50% of men and 35% of women in Europe are considered overweight or obese. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic issue. It is a big problem for the entire body and overall well-being. Excessive weight poses great risk for developing many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, gallbladder diseases, liver diseases, different reproductive problems and it is a major risk for cancer development.

Recent studies indicate that overweight and obesity account for 14% of all cancer deaths in men and 20% in women.


Obesity is a state of increased body fat mass that is accompanied by a wide range of physiological and biological alterations. Possible mechanisms such as alteration in hormonal patterns, including sex steroids, insulin, and insulin-like growth factors, and factors such as the distribution of body fat and changes in adiposity at different ages in combination with lifestyle factors (physical activity, body size, and diet)  may have an impact on tumor cell formation. For example, adipose tissue impairment, as a consequence of obesity, influences cancer formation, by changing insulin resistance and the production of adipokines and inflammatory cytokines. Since obesity is accompanied by many health problems, they may also have an effect on carcinogenesis. For example, hypertension may have influence on cancer development  by blocking and modifying apoptosis which leads to tumor cells formation.

Several studies showed that patients with chronic excess of insulin in the blood and glucose intolerance may have more than double risk of liver cancer and pancreatic cancer than those in the lowest quarter contribute to an increased risk of pancreatic and liver cancer. Changes in physiology because of obesity in fat tissue also lead to excess amounts of sex hormones such as increased estrogen production, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and some other cancers. Also, obese people often have chronic weak inflammation, which has been associated with the formation of different cancer types in the body.

Types of cancer

The above mentioned possible causes influence the increase of body mass. Obesity is associated with a significantly increased incidence of postmenopausal breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus. Higher body mass  is also significantly related to the risk of the blood cancer, such as leukaemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, B-cell lymphoma, multiple myeloma and lymphoid neoplasms.

Studies show that extra weight  increases the risk of colon cancerby 15%, and obesity increases this risk by up to 33%, compared to the risk faced by someone with a normal body mass. The risk for obese patients of developing kidneycancer increases by 84%, prostate cancer by 12%, endometrial cancer by 152% and other cancers.

In addition to enhancing the risk of developing different cancer types, obesity is also associated with worse outcomes and increased risk of death for individuals diagnosed with colon, kidney, prostate, breast and endometrial cancers, among others. Because of extreme chronicity and co-association with numerous other conditions  excessive body mass and obesity should be avoidable and patients should take care of their body mass.