Can­cer­ous di­ets

Obe­sity may in­crease risk of can­cer

The Covington News - - Health & Wellness - By Maria Cheng

LON­DON — Be­ing obese or even over­weight may in­crease a per­son’s risk of de­vel­op­ing up to a dozen dif­fer­ent types of can­cer, Euro­pean re­searchers re­port in a new study.

Doc­tors have long sus­pected a link be­tween weight gain and cer­tain can­cers, in­clud­ing colon and breast can­cers. But the new study, pub­lished Fri­day in the jour­nal Lancet, sug­gests it could also in­crease chances for can­cer of the esoph­a­gus, thy­roid, kid­ney, uterus and gall blad­der, among oth­ers.

While the study sug­gests a link, there is no de­fin­i­tive proof that be­ing fat in it­self causes can­cer.

“ To make the link be­tween cause and ef­fect, we need to tick sev­eral boxes,” said Dr. Andrew Rene­han, the study’s lead au­thor and se­nior lec­turer at the School of Can­cer Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Manch­ester. “ This study be­gins to tick the first two or three boxes, but more re­search is needed to con­firm it.”

The re­searchers com­piled data from 141 stud­ies and con­sid­ered more types of can­cers and more di­verse pop­u­la­tions than had been done pre­vi­ously. The re­search cov­ered more than 280,000 cases from North Amer­ica, Europe, Aus­tralia and Asia.

The sub­jects, both over­weight and nor­mal weight, were fol­lowed for about nine to 15 years, with re­searchers track­ing their body mass in­dex, or BMI — a cal­cu­la­tion based on weight and height — and cor­re­lat­ing it with in­ci­dents of can­cer.

In men, an av­er­age weight gain of 33 pounds in­creased the risk of esophageal can­cer by 52 per­cent, thy­roid can­cer by 33 per­cent, and colon and kid­ney can­cers each by 24 per­cent, the re­search found.

In women, a weight gain of 29 pounds in­creased the risk of can­cer in the uterus and gall blad­der by nearly 60 per­cent, esoph­a­gus by 51 per­cent and kid­ney by 34 per­cent, the study said.

The link was weaker for bone and blood can­cers, for both men and women.

In Asian pop­u­la­tions, there ap­peared to be a stronger link be­tween in­creased BMI and breast can­cer, the study said.

“ This study pro­vides a lot of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence about the dan­gers of obe­sity,” said Dr. David Rob­bins, a gas­troen­terol­o­gist at Beth Is­rael Med­i­cal Cen­ter in New York, who was not in­volved in the study. “ It also high­lights the can­cer cri­sis we face as obe­sity rates in­crease world­wide.”

Sci­en­tists are un­sure how be­ing over­weight could make peo­ple more sus­cep­ti­ble to can­cer.

“ One of the hy­pothe­ses is that the pres­ence of ex­cess fat cells could af­fect the lev­els of hor­mones in your body,” Rene­han said. “At a cel­lu­lar level, that may fa­vor the de­vel­op­ment of tu­mors in hu­mans.”

Be­cause many stud­ies have found that fat­ter peo­ple are more likely to get can­cer, ex­perts of­ten rec­om­mend los­ing weight to re­duce can­cer risk.

“ The sim­ple mes­sage is that, if you man­age to keep a healthy body weight, you will have a lower risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cer,” said Ed Yong, of Can­cer Re­search United King­dom.

The Lancet study was paid for by Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, the Univer­sity of Manch­ester and the Univer­sity of Bern, Switzer­land. Rene­han has con­sulted for sev­eral phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies that make hor­mone re­place­ments.

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