Obesity and Cancer Connection in Women

Dr. Amir

As sixty four percent of the population is overweight or obese, most patients are repetitively counseled by their physicians to loose weight in order reduce the likelihood of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and most recently cancer. Overweight is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI), a ratio of weight to height, of 25 or greater, while obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or greater. Although many patients are motivated to loose weight, results are often disappointing.

Once thought to be empty vacuoles, our adipocytes, also known as fat cells are producers of numerous hormones, cytokines, and other harmful products. Besides predisposing us to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and other ailments, obesity is now known to increase the risk of the most common cancers risk by 30-50%.

There Has Never Been a More Logical Time to Lose weight

In women 20% of all deaths were due to overweight and obesity. A recent study reported in the Lancet, February 16th issues by Dr. Andrew Renehan, of Manchester University, included a review of 141 articles within them 282, 137 cases of cancer. The study determined that by gaining 28-30 lbs, a woman increases her risks of the most common cancers significantly.

Breast cancer, the fourth killer in women, deserves special attention. Interestingly, pre menopausal women who are obese have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than obese pre-menopausal females.  However, after menopause obese women have 1.5 times the risk of normal weight women.  This is true only in postmenopausal women not taking hormones. This increased risk is believed to be due to increased levels of estrogen. 

Prior to menopause, the ovaries produce the majority of estrogen.  After menopause, the fat tissue stored in our body is the primary producer of estrogen.  The levels of estrogen are 50 to 100% higher in heavy women. The estrogen sensitive tissues, such as the breast are very sensitive to the levels of estrogen hormone and they respond by growing rapidly.  Another reason cancer death rates are higher in obese women is that they are harder to detect via physical exam. Since one in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, any additional risk in a worrisome statistic.  Moreover, the risk of breast cancer relapse in also greater in obese women is increased by 20%.

Obesity doubles the risk of uterine and gall bladder cancer, while increasing the risk of kidney cancer by 30%. There is also a similar increase in the risk of colorectal cancer, thyroid, leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.  These are astounding results and were seen across cultures

With international cancer associations are on their way to educate and alleviate the obesity epidemic, our physicians are dedicated to assist our patients in now ever more important weight loss.  As HealthwoRx™ physicians we are dedicated to the best medical standards and have recently incorporated a successful medical weight loss program to benefit our patients. Contact your physician today for a BMI evaluation today and find out how you can reduce the risk of cancer.