Introduction: Studies show that obesity increases risk of cancer. In a new report, researchers found that around half a million cancer patients each year have developed the disease because of obesity. The study analyzed data from 184 countries, including Lebanon, and concluded that obesity and overweight were associated with about 5% of cancer cases in women, and 2% of cancer cases in men.
What is obesity?
Morbid obesity results from the excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds your body’s skeletal and physical standards. In the medical field, we define morbidly obese patients as those with 35 kilograms or more of excess weight than their ideal body weight. – Dr. Nagi Jean Safa, Your Journey Out of Obesity.
Obesity in Lebanon
According to the most recent worldwide obesity statistics, obesity in Lebanon in 2009 revealed the following figures: 26.5% of Lebanese women and 28.7% of Lebanese men are obese.
The relationship between obesity and cancer
A new report from the University of Oxford stated that 3.6 percent of all cancers are linked to obesity and excess weight, which means that worldwide, 500,000 cancer cases have been associated with overweight.
Obesity has been tied to increased risk of several types of cancer, namely cancers of the:
Many theories have been hypothesized to explain the connection between obesity and cancer:
- Fat tissue increases the production of estrogen, which, at high levels, has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and other cancers.
- Insulin resistance and high levels of insulin may increase the risks of tumor development.
- Certain hormones which are found exceedingly in obese people seem to stimulate or impede cell growth.
Does weight loss prevent cancer?
It is difficult to determine whether weight loss can prevent cancer because there are many other factors to consider when determining the origin of a cancer.
However, some studies followed patients who have had weight loss surgery such as the gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, gastric plication, or gastric banding, which result in weight loss of an average of 30% of their total body weight. These patients had a much lower risk of obesity-related cancers than obese patients who did not have weight loss surgery.