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Posted at: Feb 9, 2019, 9:42 AM; last updated: Feb 9, 2019, 3:19 PM (IST)

A big fat risk

Being overweight can raise the danger for several health problems, including cancer

Satkam Divya

Being overweight has long been associated with several cardiovascular diseases. However, the heart is not the only organ which gets affected by excess body weight. Having the right weight according to your height, age and gender is crucial for overall health and wellness of any individual. Given the risks associated with obesity, people across the world are rightly worried about the unhealthy distribution of body fat. 

Overweight people are at higher risk of serious health conditions like high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and heart diseases. According to several researches by the American Cancer Society, obesity can be responsible for around 8 per cent of all type of cancers. It is also responsible for increased possibility of cancer.

There have been many studies that have explored the possible risks of obesity being linked with increasing chances of various kinds of cancer. 

Types of cancers associated with obesity

Being overweight raises the chances of different types of cancers like breast, uterine, colorectal, kidney, pancreatic, head and neck, oesophageal, prostate, endometrial, thyroid and gallbladder. An increased amount of body fat augments the risks of all types of cancers.

Breast cancer: Obese women have 20 per cent to 40 per cent increased risk of developing breast cancer in comparison to women having normal weight. The risks are even higher in women who never underwent menopausal hormone therapy or therapy for tumours expressing hormone receptors. Men also have risks of developing breast cancer. 

Colorectal: Overweight people are more likely to develop colorectal cancer in comparison to people with normal weight. 

Kidney: Obese people develop the risk of renal cell cancer affecting the kidneys. They also develop the risks of having high blood pressure which raises chances of affecting the kidneys. 

Pancreatic: People with excess weight have more chances of developing pancreatic cancer in comparison to those having normal weight. 

Oesophageal: Chances of obese people developing oesophageal (food pipe) cancer are more. It is less likely in normal weighing people. 

Endometrial: Endometrial cancer affects the lining of the uterus. Obese women are four times more at risk of developing this cancer in comparison to women with normal weight. Extremely obese women are at very high risk of developing this cancer. 

Thyroid: Persons with high body mass index (BMI) have more risk of being affected with thyroid cancer. 

Gallbladder: People with excess weight have 20 per cent increased chances of developing gallbladder cancer. The risks of developing gallbladder cancer are higher in women in comparison to men. 

Other types of cancers associated with obesity are gastric cardia, liver, multiple myelomas, meningioma, and ovarian cancer. However, a word of caution — all obese people will definitely not develop cancer. But people with excess weight are more likely to develop cancer in comparison to people having healthy weight. A person can lower the risks of developing cancer and several other health issues by maintaining a healthy weight. For general wellbeing and health, maintaining a healthy weight according to your height, age and gender is always good.

Dangers of excess weight

  • Obesity can increase insulin levels and that is likely to scale up the chances to develop cancer. High levels of insulin can raise the risk of the development of the kidney, colon, prostate and endometrial cancers.
  • Low-level of chronic inflammation is common in people with obesity which is another reason behind increased risks of cancer. Low-level inflammation in obese people can cause DNA damage increasing the risk of developing cancer.
  • Fat tissues in the body produce a high amount of estrogen which increases chances of development of specific types of cancers. The fat tissue or the adipose tissue increases the risks of breast, ovarian, endometrial and certain other types of cancers.
  • The fat cells in the body also promote the growth of cancer cells which divide to cause a tumour.
—The writer is CEO, KlinicApp

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