The link of obesity to cancer

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Saturday, January 18, 2014

WITH the effects of the holidays still amongst us - bulging tummies straining the limits of elastic zippers of our pants coupled with some form of dyspnea - difficulty of breathing due to the excess weight, and hopefully, with the list of our New Year's resolution still intact, it would be wise to pause and think about the effects of being overweight or worse, being obese. Indeed, with the obesity epidemic showing no signs of waning, it's high time to tackle and take obesity, by the horns, so to speak.

Why is cancer often the afterthought when we list obesity' multiple risks? One of the most famous cancer epidemiologists of the American Cancer Society says the risks of heart disease and diabetes from packing on pounds are much higher and more immediate whereas with cancer, it develops more slowly, thus may go unnoticed until it is already serious or in advanced state.

How big a role a big abdomen to bulging tummy play varies greatly and the strongest connections are actually with less common cancer. Excess weight is most strongly linked to the uterine lining or endometrium. An overweight woman has twice the risk than a lean woman, and if when she gets obese, the risk is 3.5 to 5 fold. On the other hand, the obese has up to triple the risk of kidney cancer and a type of cancer of the esophagus. Overweight or obese men and women are 50 percent or twice as likely to as lean men to get colon cancer.


Fat is linked to breast cancer among postmenopausal women with a 30-50 % risk. Fat cells apparently play different roles that can spur different types of cancer growth.

"Fat cells are not just static storage deposits," explained Dr. Eugenia Calle of the American Cancer Society. “The worrisome fat is the visceral fat, which is most metabolically active. This is the fat that builds up in the abdomen and the fat that surround internal organs,” she added.
But exactly how fat cells work in causing malignant growth of cells is not well understood. Some scientists speculate excess fat can spur surges of the hormone insulin as well as some proteins to the bloodstream, which in turn can unleash out-of-control growth among certain types of cells. Again, as to why, some cells are stimulated and why some cells are refractory to the carinogenic process, is still a big question mark among oncologists or cancer specialists, geneticists as your favorite family physician.

Take home message? A basta magreduce ka! Cheers and good luck!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 18, 2014.


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