The Link Between Obesity and Cancer

Obesity is on the rise and cancer rates are skyrocketing.  Could there be a connection? It is entirely possible; in fact, studies conducted by the NIH indicate that there is a connection between obesity and several types of cancer.

There was a study in 2007 that examined NCI SEER data, (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results). It predicted as the obesity epidemic spread, so too would the cancer epidemic.  It’s estimated there would be 34,000 new cases of cancer among men, and 50,500 new cases among women all of which would be associated to obesity.  As the rates of obesity continue to climb, we could see another 500,000 cases of obesity related cancers.  These are scary numbers.

If you look at the average diet of most Americans, it is highly processed and high in sugar.  High sugar, high calorie diets lead to obesity when a lack of physical activity is present.  At some point, people consume far more than they burn in a day and eventually the body stops burning fat effectively.  The result is obesity, cancer and insulin resistance.

Research has not been definitive with the exact correlation, but hypothesizes there are a few possible mechanisms driving the link between obesity and cancer.  (source)

  • Fat tissue produces excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and some other cancers.
  • Obese people often have increased levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in their blood (a condition known as hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance), which may promote the development of certain tumors.
  • Fat cells produce hormones, called adipokines, that may stimulate or inhibit cell growth. For example, leptin, which is more abundant in obese people, seems to promote cell proliferation, whereas adiponectin, which is less abundant in obese people, may have antiproliferative effects.
  • Fat cells may also have direct and indirect effects on other tumor growth regulators, including mammalian target of rapamycin(mTOR) and AMP-activated protein kinase.
  • Obese people often have chronic low-level, or “subacute,” inflammation, which has been associated with increased cancer risk.

Studies have not looked at whether or not weight loss decreases the cancer risk for the obese. Studies have more closely looked at its effect on other chronic illnesses.  The best way to guard against obesity related cancers is to eat clean, get plenty of physical activity, drink plenty of water and pay attention to nutrition.

Shakeology can help regulate blood sugar and provide the dense nutrition your body needs.  I’d be happy to discuss any of the Beachbody programs with you to help you on the road to better health.