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(colon, prostate, breast, pancreas, uterus, kidney, esophageal, gallbladder, thyroid)
The University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that being overweight or obese increases your body’s chronic inflammation and risk of all types of cancer. Being overweight doubles your risk of developing all types of cancer. With that said, some types of cancer have been linked to and influenced greater by having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 25 (14). Cancer has many etiologic causes including: genetics, mutations, environment, radiation, tobacco, alcohol, infection (bacterial or viral), diet, and body weight. These types of cancer have been significantly linked to being overweight or obese: colon, prostate, pancreas, uterus, kidney, breast, esophageal, gallbladder, and thyroid.
Outside the United States, liver cancer is one of the most common cancers and is greatly exacerbated by obesity. Although fat itself may be the culprit, fat may also store carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) that can damage your body’s DNA and instigate a cancerous tumor. (8B)
Males have a 45% chance of developing some type of cancer during their lifetime, while females have a 38% chance. Eating nutritiously and watching your weight can help prevent or delay cancer. Factors in your diet that reduce your cancer risk include normal caloric intake, vitamins, nutrients, anti-oxidants, and fiber. Being overweight or obese will increase your risk of cancer because it increases your body’s hormone levels, particularly estrogen, insulin, and leptin –which may cause tumors. Fat cells also cause longterm levels of increased inflammation, which can contribute to cancer. (16, 8B)
About 6% of Americans will develop colorectal cancer, with most cases over the age of 40. Being overweight causes excessive chronic inflammation, and this significantly increases one’s chance of developing colorectal cancer (13).
Abdominal fat is also a big factor, as opposed to fat in other areas. If caught early, 70% survive past 5 years. Most colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas. Colorectal cancer affects about 6% of males and females, and has a strong genetic (familial) influence. It is important to have regular screenings for polyps in your later years of life. Although sometimes asymptomatic, symptoms include rectal bleeding, pain, and/or bloating. (8B, 16)
About 17% of males will develop prostate cancer, with most of those cases over the age of 60. It is the most common type of cancer in men. If found before distant metastasis in later stages, there is a 5 year 100% survival rate.
The risk of prostate cancer is highest in countries that consume a lot of fat. Symptoms include problems urinating, an enlarged prostate, and sometimes bone pain.
More than 12% of women will develop breast cancer, and a much lower percentage of men. Although other factors play a role, such as genetics, being overweight or obese causes increased levels of estrogen, which can cause this cancer. This is especially true with postmenopausal women.
Because of advances in detecting & treating this cancer, the mortality rate is less than 25%. Symptoms include a lump, swelling, redness, inflammation, or abnormal discharge in the breast. (15, 16, 8B)
Less than 2% of Americans will develop pancreatic cancer, but this cancer has a very high mortality rate. Most people do not survive. Most cases are over the age of 55, with the average age of 71 years. Although the risk of this cancer increases with alcohol and cigarette abuse, being overweight or obese (especially related to waist circumference) only multiplies your risk. It is an adenocarcinoma, like most colorectal cancers. Symptoms include weight loss, pain in the abdomen, and radiating pain into the back. (8B, 15)
Less than 3% of women will develop uterine cancer.
Although risk increases greatly depending on your genetics, obesity and high blood pressure also significantly influence a women’s risk of developing this type of cancer. High estrogen levels increases your risk and obesity adds to this risk because fat tissue releases estrogen. If found in early stages, there is a 5 year survival rate of 80%. Symptoms may include abnormal vaginal bleeding. (8B, 15)
Less than 2% of Americans develop kidney cancer, with most cases over the age of 45. Men are at greater risk than women. Although certain factors like genetics, smoking, and chemicals contribute to causing this cancer, being significantly overweight and having high blood pressure are also major contributors. Symptoms can include sangreous colored urine, pain in the kidneys, sudden weight loss, or a noticeable lump in the kidney area. (15, 8B)
Less than 1% of Americans will develop esophageal cancer, with most cases over the age of 55. Factors that can increase your risk of developing this type of cancer include hot foods & drinks, tobacco & alcohol use, genetics, being male, HPV, accidental damaging chemical ingestion, and being overweight or obese. Being overweight doubles your chance of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus because of chronic inflammation as well as increased incidence of reflux
disease and Barrett’s esophagus. This type of cancer has a high mortality rate, and most people die within the first year of diagnosis, although there is a 15% survival rate after 5 years. Symptoms include Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), painful swallowing, weight loss, excessive heartburn, or a rough sounding cough. (10, 16)
Although more common in other countries, gallbladder cancer is fairly rare in the USA, affecting about 0.1% of the population, with most cases occurring between the ages of 50 – 60. Females, Native Americans, South Americans, Japanese, and Israelis have a higher incidence. Being overweight increases your risk of developing gallstones, which in turn increases your risk of cancer. This cancer also has a high mortality rate, with most dying within the first year. Symptoms include jaundice, weight loss, and gallbladder pain. (10,16)
Thyroid cancer is rare in the USA, affecting about 0.1% of the population, most between the ages of 40 – 80. Women are 4 times more at risk than men. It is more common in countries where iodine is not added to table salt. Other risk factors include exposure to radiation -especially when young, obesity, and genetics. This cancer has a low mortality rate, with 85% survival past 5 years. Symptoms include pain, a small lump in the thyroid, enlarged lymph nodes, and hoarse voice. (10,16)
Outside the United States, 1 million people are diagnosed with liver cancer every year. Although liver cancer is usually caused by alcoholic cirrhosis or hepatitis B & C, people with liver disease who are also obese are about 5 times more likely to develop liver cancer. Evidence shows that although being overweight or obese increases your risk of cancer, a person can lower this risk by losing weight and eating nutritiously. So, some of these risk factors can be reversed. Even more reason to follow through on a diet to lose weight and maintain your body at a normal BMI (Body Mass Index) number. (10, 16)