Obesity can add weight to your risk of cancer. Here’s what an expert says
If you are constantly gaining weight and not taking enough measures to keep it in control, you may be increasing your risk of getting cancer. Obese people are more likely to get not only diabetes, heart ailments, strokes, but also cancer. One in six cancer deaths in men and one in seven cancer deaths in women are related to obesity.
According to National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP), the number of cancer cases are likely to increase from 13.9 lakh in 2020 to 15.7 lakh by 2025, an increase of nearly 20%. Cancers such as oral, lung and colorectal have been affecting more people in the age group of 20-50 years – a few of the most productive years of life.
“Nearly six types of cancers are linked to obesity and are slowly on the rise among people under 50. These are colon or rectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, gallbladder cancer, uterine cancer (also called endometrial cancer), and multiple myeloma. These cancers are often not discovered in younger people until the disease is advanced and harder to treat,” says Dr Anil Heroor, Director-Advanced OncoSurgery Unit, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai.
How obesity increases your risk of cancer
“Fat is dynamic, and it doesn’t just sit in one place. It can become dysfunctional, resulting in inflammation, which increases the risk of developing cancer. Many of the cancers linked to Obesity are in organs that are embedded in pads of fat. In addition, excess fat can influence the whole body causing a systemic effect,” says the oncologist.
“For instance, people with dysfunctional fat tissue often have altered levels of hormones, such as insulin and estrogen. These changes can damage DNA and lead to several cancers, including some organs and even blood cancers, such as multiple myeloma. However, the one good thing is that at least one-third of common cancers are preventable,” says Dr Heroor.
The expert says there is a growing need to raise awareness about the health hazards due to obesity. “Just like for a decade, we have been telling young people that smoking and tobacco chewing are harmful to health. We need to sensitize people about obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle that can cause cancers,” says Dr Heroor.