The Influence of Obesity on Breast Cancer and 12 Other Cancers

Friday, October 5, 2018

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This awareness is important to all of us. Most of us who are overweight or obese know the increased risk we face with diabetes and heart disease but how many of us know that there are many cancers that are obesity related?

Obesity has now been linked to at least 13 different cancers. What does this mean? It means that what we eat, how much we eat, and how that affects our weight plays a large part in our susceptibility to specific cancers. Why does obesity have such a powerful influence on so many kinds of cancer? It is because obesity is associated with significant metabolic and hormone abnormalities as well as with chronic inflammation. It is not hard to see that these factors can trigger as well as promote the growth of cancer in our bodies.

The current list of obesity-related cancers is:

  1. Uterine cancer
  2. Breast cancer
  3. Endometrial cancer
  4. Ovarian cancer
  5. Thyroid cancer
  6. Colorectal cancer
  7. Gastric cardia, a cancer of the part of the stomach closest to the esophagus
  8. Liver cancer
  9. Gallbladder cancer
  10. Pancreatic cancer
  11. Meningioma, a usually benign type of brain tumor
  12. Multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.
  13. Prostate cancer
According to Dr. Graham Colditz, a professor of medicine and surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, this list of obesity-related cancers together account for 42 percent of all new cancer diagnoses. Obesity also appears to accelerate the development of cancer. According to the experts, those with obesity tend to have worse prognoses as well.

Frighteningly, the incidence of cancer is rising in our youth. A recent study of young adults found that 9 out of 13 cancers are increasing in that population.

Those cancers and the percentage of new cases in people between 20 and 44 are:

  • Breast cancer -- 10.5%
  • Colon and rectal cancer -- 5.8%
  • Kidney cancer -- 7.8%
  • Endometrial cancer -- 7.3%
  • Thyroid cancer -- 23.9%
  • Liver cancer -- 2.5%
  • Gastric cardia (cancer at the top of the stomach) -- 6.2%
  • Meningioma (cancer in the lining of the brain and spinal cord) -- 16.8%
  • Ovarian cancer -- 10.6%

Experts are focusing on the importance of prevention. The only way to change the increase in the incidence of cancer, no matter at what age, is to focus on a healthy lifestyle. We need to choose healthy foods and eat them in right-sized amounts. Living an active lifestyle that includes exercise is a must. Getting enough sleep makes all the difference in our resilience. And emotional well-being cannot be ignored. When our mental health is in a good place it is easier for us to sustain our resolve to live life as our healthiest selves.

For more information and ideas on how to live a healthy lifestyle please check out our Livliga website as well as the Live Vibrant Blog.

Here are some specific blogs to use as a resource:

Healthy Lifestyle Tools

Healthy Eating

Active Lifestyle


Mental Well Being

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