Link Between Obesity and Cancer

Share This Post

This is an update to a previous blog, based on the latest published research.

For many years, you’ve heard and read that being overweight or obese is not just a cosmetic problem. These conditions greatly raise your risk for multiple health problems.

Of course everybody knows about the increased risk for:

  • heart disease, including heart attacks, angina and heart failure
  • high blood pressure
  • arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation
  • stroke
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes mellitus
  • sleep apnea
  • arthritis
  • gallstones
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (excess fat and inflammation in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol)
  • infertility, reproductive issues
  • early death

Multiple recent studies highlighted another major problem associated with obesity:

Increased risk for cancer, including: stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, ovary, brain (meningioma), thyroid, and blood (multiple myeloma), as well as colon, esophageal, kidney, breast, and uterus cancers.

And the latest statistics are just as staggering:

Excess weight and diabetes cause nearly 6 percent of cancers worldwide. Specifically, the researchers attributed 4 percent of cancers to obesity and 2 percent to diabetes. [1]

For most of these cancers, there is a positive relationship between excess weight and cancer risk. The higher the BMI (body mass index=weight to height ratio), the higher the individual’s risk of cancer. This increased risk may be related to the biological changes secondary to diabetes and obesity, such as high sugar levels, possible overproduction of sex hormones, like estrogen, testosterone, and insulin by the body, as well as by increased inflammatory processes, all of which are known to fuel cancer growth.

These new findings may be of particular relevance in light of the fact that about 640 million adults and 110 million children worldwide are obese. In the United States, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey:

  • more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese
  • more than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese
  • more than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity
  • about one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese
  • more than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese

To fight this problem requires a comprehensive approach, which includes: diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications. The addition of appropriate supplements and sometimes prescription medications can be beneficial as well.

Only a qualified, trained healthcare professional can help to design a specific plan, geared toward each patient’s unique needs.

Doing it alone may not be as beneficial as you might think. Many TV and online diets are not as helpful as they promise.

An example is a recently published 8-year Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial, where 19,541 women were randomized into a low-fat diet group and 29,294 women were randomized into a control group.

The results were very disappointing. Eating a low-fat diet did not affect rates of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, or colorectal cancer in the largest-ever long-term randomized trial of a dietary intervention in postmenopausal women.

The study showed a small reduction in the rate of invasive breast cancer, but even that finding was not statistically significant.

Don’t gamble with your life.

For more information on a healthy lifestyle and a holistic in-depth approach, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Val Koganski at 215-750-7000 or


[1] Pearson-Stuttard J, et al. Worldwide burden of cancer attributable to diabetes and high body-mass index: a comparative risk assessment. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2017; published online Nov 28.





Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.