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Obesity Increases Risk of Cancer

Obesity Increases Risk of Cancer

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:

  • Esophagus
  • Breast
  • Colon
  • Pancreas
  • Uterus
  • Kidney
  • Gallbladder
  • Thyroid

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.

Author Info

Dr Nagi Safa

Dr Nagi Safa is a Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeon (Weight-Loss Surgeon) at the Advanced BMI in Lebanon and at the Sacred Heart Hospital of Montreal, and holds an academic appointment at the University of Montreal. Furthermore, he is involved in the training of residents and surgical fellows on how to perform advanced laparoscopic obesity surgery. In 2010, he launched the Advanced Bariatric and Metabolic Institute (Advanced BMI) in Lebanon, and has been helping hundreds of patients from all over the Middle-East through his expertise in obesity surgery. Education: Dr Safa completed his residency training at the University of Montreal General Surgery Program. He then performed a fellowship in Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and Minimal Invasive Surgery (Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery), at the Sacred Heart Hospital of Montreal, which is the largest Weight Loss Surgery center in the Montreal area, and one of the busiest in Canada. Experience: During his training, and throughout his practice, Dr Safa performed more than one thousand laparoscopic procedures, including Roux en Y gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, gastric banding, gastric plication and many other abdominal surgery procedures. He has a particular interest in LaparoscopicRevisional Surgery including banding, bypass and sleeve. With a keen interest in the advancement of obesity surgery and newer minimally invasive surgical techniques, Dr Safa gained experience in the single incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS), and offers Single Incision gastric banding and Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery. Research: His current research interests include clinical outcomes from various bariatric surgery procedures and investigations on the impact of bariatric surgery on Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome X. Memberships: Dr Safa holds professional memberships with the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, Canadian Association of Bariatric Physicians and Surgeons, Canadian Association of General Surgeons, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Association for Surgical Oncology, Quebec Medical Association, Trauma Association of Canada, Association Quebecoise de Chirurgie, International College of Surgeon, and the College des Medecins du Quebec.