Raising Awareness of Link Between Obesity and Cancer

POSTED BY Scott | Dec, 08, 2014 |
Doctor Discussing Weight and Cancer Risk With Patient

Understanding the link between obesity and certain types of cancer, including colon, uterus, gallbladder, pancreas, thyroid, and esophagus, as well as breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, can help provide the impetus for more Americans to make necessary and healthful changes in their diet, according to a recent article by Jim Landers of the Dallas Morning News, and cited below. In their policy statement, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “urged cancer doctors to discuss obesity with their patients, since losing weight may help people recover and prevent a recurrence of the disease.”

Obesity may soon eclipse tobacco as cancer cause, doctors group warns

WASHINGTON — A cancer physicians group warned that obesity may soon surpass tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer.

The American Society of Clinical Oncologists said obesity is now implicated in as many as 1 in 5 cancer deaths — about the same rate as cancers linked to smoking.

Yet most people aren’t aware of the link.

“It’s pretty rare to find someone who doesn’t know the association of tobacco with cancer,” said Dr. Clifford Hudis, an author of Wednesday’s policy statement and chief of breast cancer medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. “If you ask the general population if there’s a relationship between obesity and cancer, the general answer is no.” Hudis said obesity would eclipse tobacco use as a cause of cancer “within a couple of years.”

How is obesity linked to cancer?

A poll released last year found that only 7 percent of Americans realized there was a link between obesity and cancer. The telephone survey of 1,011 adults was done by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Obesity-related cancers have contributed to increased health care spending. The price per patient of cancer treatments has gone up 36 percent since 1996, and the number of people with cancer has grown from 9.2 million to 16.1 million.

Together, price and incidence have pushed cancer spending from $37.7 billion to $88.7 billion, said Wally Gomaa, senior vice president in Dallas with Holmes Murphy & Associates.

In Texas, about 18 percent of adults smoke — a significant drop from smoking rates 40 years ago. Since 1990, however, the incidence of obesity in Texas has climbed to more than 30 percent.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the nationwide rate of adult obesity is 34.9 percent. The oncologists’ society noted research showing obesity seems to cause more aggressive breast cancer in postmenopausal women and prostate cancer in older men. Obesity has been implicated in several other cancers as well. The policy statement urged cancer doctors to discuss obesity with their patients, since losing weight may help people recover and prevent a recurrence of cancer.

Texas Oncology, a major cancer treatment group, says obesity and a lack of exercise may be factors in cancers of the colon, uterus, gallbladder, pancreas, thyroid and esophagus.

Being overweight can increase cancer risk by causing a higher production of hormones, including estrogen, said Dr. Debra Patt, a Texas Oncology partner practicing in Austin.

For a woman with postmenopausal breast cancer, “if you’re obese, it’s sort of like feeding the tumor,” Patt said.

Read the complete article, “Obesity may soon eclipse tobacco as cancer cause, doctors group warns.”

Thank you to Jim Landers, of Dallasnews.com, Washington Bureau, for this article.

Contact Pound Melters for more information on how we can help you reduce your risk of cancer through weight loss.