There is ample evidence showing the relationship between obesity and diabetes, and between obesity and heart disease. For about the past twenty years, however, the medical community has become increasingly aware that there is also a connection between obesity and cancer.
The most common sites for the cancer to develop are the esophagus, colon, kidney, uterus, and breast, particularly after menopause.
The American Institute for Cancer Research has linked more than 100,000 cancers per year in the United States to obesity. Further, the obesity related cancers have tripled in incidence over the past two decades.
The American Cancer Society estimates thirty percent of deaths due to cancer are the result of nutritional deficiencies, excessive weight, and inadequate exercise.
Of particular concern is the fact that obesity is on the rise and is considered to have reached epidemic proportions. One may rightly assume therefore that because there is a relationship between excess weight and cancers, the incidence of cancer will also increase.
The relationship between the obesity and cancer is not completely understood because of the complexities of each of the diseases. However, there are several possibilities which may explain the connection to some extent.
- Esophagus: Obesity causes an increase in the incidence of regurgitation of the stomach contents, particularly at nighttime. The stomach acids irritate and wear away the lining of the esophagus.
- Colon: Fat cells are known to produce estrogen. It is speculated that the excess estrogen makes the cells of the colon more prone to cancer.
- Kidney: As with the colon, it is suspected that estrogen secreted by the fat cells is responsible for the development of cancer.
- Endometrium: The lining of the uterus is particularly susceptible to negative effects of the estrogen load flooding the system from fat cells.
-Breast: Obesity appears to trigger mutations of genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 which are precursors to cancer of the breast in post menopausal women. Obesity also makes thorough breast examination more difficult.
There are at least twenty additional types of cancer in which obesity has been implicated. Notably, the gall bladder, pancreas, and ovaries also appear to be susceptible.
The good news is that the American Cancer Society has dedicated a significant about of research funds in hopes of learning more about the connection between the two diseases of cancer and obesity.
Even though the scientific community remains unclear as to the nature of the correlation, there is little doubt that the threat is real.
For those struggling with obesity or raising children who are at risk for excessive weight gain, the fact that the incidence of cancer in cases of obesity should be enough to spur us into action.
Obesity is the root cause of many serious illnesses.
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