Weekly Health Update:
Obesity and Cancer Risk
By, Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
The information in this column is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or recommendations by the author. Please consult with your physician before making any lifestyle or medication changes, or if you have any other concerns regarding your health.
Welcome to Weekly Health Update
“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”
OBESITY AND CANCER RISK
We have become the heaviest people in the history of our species, with two-thirds of Americans officially classified as overweight, and one of every three of us tipping the scales into the “obese” range. For too many of us, day after day, we load our bodies with more fat- and calorie-packed foods than our bodies can utilize. Surrounded by effort-saving devices that have drastically reduced the amount of food-derived energy that our bodies can reasonably metabolize, a majority of Americans are becoming progressively heavier and heavier. Moreover, obesity now affects a shocking percentage of children and adolescents in our society, and it is no longer uncommon to see children and teenagers with obesity-related diseases, previously seen only in adults, like diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, gallstones, and cardiovascular disease.
In addition to chronic illnesses that have long been associated with obesity, it has become increasingly clear that the risk of multiple different types of cancer is also increased by obesity. Now, a newly published public health study, which appears in a forthcoming issue of The Lancet Oncology, underscores the disturbing extent to which excess weight increases our risks of several different common types of cancer.
In this huge public health study, more than 400,000 patient volunteers from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand were followed for an average of 4 years. When obese study volunteers (BMI of 30 or higher) were compared with volunteers of normal weight (BMI less than 25), the obese volunteers were found to have a 21 percent higher risk of death due to cancer. The risk of dying of certain specific types of cancer were even higher among the obese volunteers, including a 50 percent increased risk of death due to colon cancer, a 68 percent increased risk of death due to rectal cancer, a 63 percent increased risk of death due to breast cancer (in postmenopausal women), a 162 percent increase in the risk of dying of ovarian cancer, a 321 percent increase in the risk of death due to cancer of the cervix, a 45 percent increase in the risk of death due to prostate cancer, and a 66 percent increase in the risk of dying from leukemia.
The findings of this enormous public health study are worrisome, to say the least, and reflect the very serious impact that obesity has on our risk of developing cancer, and the risk of dying from cancer.
Obesity is a growing public health problem in the United States and, increasingly, around the world; and the list of chronic, major illnesses associated with obesity continues to expand (along with our collective waistlines). If you are overweight or obese, then please consult with your physician for advice on how best to lose your excess weight. Meanwhile, sharply reduce your intake of high-calorie and high-fat foods, and begin a responsible and consistent exercise program, under your physician’s supervision.
For a more detailed discussion of the scientific links between obesity and cancer, look for the publication of my new landmark book, “ A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in August of this year.
I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 new and returning readers who visit our premier global health information website every month. As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.
Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physicianbeforemaking any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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(Anticipated Publication Date: August 2010)
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Copyright 2007 - 2010
Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
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Dr. Wascher's Archives:
6-27-2010: Soy, Curcumin & Prostate Cancer Risk
5-30-2010: Medical Research Studies & “Spin”
5-9-2010: Soy Foods & Stomach Cancer Risk
4-18-2010: Coffee Improves HDL Cholesterol Levels
3-28-2010: Aspirin & Breast Cancer Survival
3-21-2010: Obesity, Alcohol & Liver Disease
3-14-2010: Nuts, Diet & Obesity
2-28-2010: Soy Isoflavones & Recurrent Prostate Cancer
2-14-2010: Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Sodas & Juice
1-31-2010: Concord Grape Juice Improves Memory
1-24-2010: Mozart, Music, Babies & Health
1-17-2010: Breast Cancer, Physical Therapy & Lymphedema
1-3-2010: Ginkgo Biloba, Memory & Cognitive Health
12-20-2009: CT Scans & Cancer Risk
11-29-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
11-22-2009: Genistein (Soy Isoflavone) & Prostate Cancer
11-15-2009: Breast Cancer Treatment & Chronic Pain
1-8-2009: Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk
11-1-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
10-25-2009: HPV Virus & Risk of Breast Cancer
10-11-2009: Vitamin D & Falls in the Elderly
10-4-2009: Surgery, NSQIP, Complications & Death
9-27-2009 Stress, Heart Disease, Exercise & Death
9-20-2009: Vitamin D & Colorectal Cancer Survival
9-13-2009: H1N1 Swine Flu Update
9-7-2009: Green Tea, Aging & Lifespan
8-30-2009: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber
8-23-2009: Update on Prostate Cancer and Cryotherapy
8-2-2009: Honesty, Dishonesty & Brain Function
7-26-2009: Coronary Artery CT Scans & Cancer Risk
7-12-2009: Breast Cancer & Metformin (Glucophage)
7-5-2009: Prostate Cancer & Green Tea
6-21-2009: Red Yeast Rice, Statins & Cholesterol
6-7-2009: Diet, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk
5-31-2009: Diet and Prostate Cancer Risk
5-24-2009: Diabetes, Glucose Control & Death
5-10-2009: Hemorrhoids & Surgery
4-26-2009: Are We Really Losing the War on Cancer?
4-19-2009: Exercise in Middle Age & Risk of Death
4-12-2009: Can Chronic Stress Harm Your Heart?
3-15-2009: Depression, Stress, Anger & Heart Disease
10-26-2008: Smoking & Quality of Life
10-19-2008: Agent Orange & Prostate Cancer
10-12-2008: Pomegranate Juice & Prostate Cancer
9-21-2008: Does Tylenol® (Acetaminophen) Cause Asthma?
4-27-2008: Stents vs. Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease; The “DASH” Hypertension Diet & Cardiovascular Disease Prevention; Testosterone Therapy for Women with Decreased Sexual Desire & Function
4-6-2008: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Pap Smear Results & Cervical Cancer; Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection & Oral Cancer; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & the Risk of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
12-16-2007: Honey vs. Dextromethorphan vs. No Treatment for Kids with Night-Time Cough, Acupuncture & Hot Flashes in Women with Breast Cancer, Physical Activity & the Risk of Death, Mediterranean Diet & Mortality