Cancer rates are on the rise in America. Experts now predict that more than 40 percent of all Americans will be diagnosed with some form of the disease during their lifetimes. Growing evidence links obesity and cancer risk, especially for ovarian, prostate, liver, cervical, and gallbladder cancers.
In fact, the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that as many as one in five of all cancer-related deaths are caused in part by excess body fat. This makes achieving a healthy body mass index (BMI) an important part of cancer prevention.
The Connection Between Obesity and Cancer
Scientists believe that having excess body fat increases the risk of developing cancer. This is a because obesity has a long-term negative impact on the immune and endocrine (hormone) system.
Having a high BMI can lead to chronic inflammation throughout the body. This condition is believed to fuel the abnormal growth of certain types of cancer cells. Obesity-related conditions, such as Type-2 diabetes can also fuel the growth of some cancers. Losing and gaining weight repeatedly over time may also fuel cancer growth.
Excess fat cells can also cause a hormonal imbalance. They promote excess estrogen production, which has been associated with breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers. This is especially true for postmenopausal women. Men who put on excess pounds during adulthood are at an increased risk for developing an aggressive, and often deadly form of prostate cancer.
Types of Cancer Impacted By Obesity
The types of cancers that have been shown to be connected to being overweight or obese include:
- Head and Neck
- Bowel, colon, and rectum
- Ovarian, breast, and cervical
- Prostate (aggressive forms)
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Reducing Cancer Risk With Weight Loss Surgery
The good news is that studies have shown bariatric surgery can help to reduce cancer risk among people who are overweight or obese. Bariatric surgery significantly lowers their BMI. Weight loss surgery also helps these patients achieve long-term success over their struggles with excess weight.
Most patients who undergo weight loss procedures like LAP-BAND, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, or gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy) achieve a 30% or greater reduction in the amount of fat on their bodies over time. By comparison, people who diet and exercise can usually expect to lose about 10% of unwanted body fat.
Many people think of weight loss surgery as simply another form cosmetic surgery. However, research on the relationship between obesity and cancer shows that bariatric procedures can do much more than help patients look and feel better. Medical weight loss can actually help reduce the risk of developing life-threatening conditions.
To learn more about the connection between obesity and cancer, and to find out if you could benefit from weight loss surgery, contact us to register in our free weight-loss seminar.