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Obesity And Cancer: Studies Link Two Leading Causes Of Death

Agnus Smith | Published: June 14, 2018

Standing on scale

Obesity is a huge problem in the United States. It is not just a matter of appearances—it is a matter of health and well-being. Obesity is the direct cause of a number of ailments, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, strokes and the mechanical breakdown of one's body.

As of 2017, 36.5% of people in the United States are obese, in other words, over one-third of the population. Obesity statistics differ among various demographics like race, region, and gender. If you take a look at places like West Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas, you'll see some of the highest obesity rates, which can reach nearly 40%. On the other hand, you have some states that are generally pretty healthy and have low obesity rates. States with the lowest obesity rates include Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington D.C—which have rates as low as 20%-25%.

Obesity rates are higher than they should be, but what's more alarming are how the numbers nearly double when you include people who are overweight. About 70.7% of men in the US are considered overweight, and about 58.*% of females in the US are overweight. 

It shouldn't surprise anyone that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult and expensive. Fast food, soft drinks, and large portions are ingrained in American culture, and that's a problem. When it's cheaper to purchase 2 burgers, fries, and a soda than it is to buy a salad or fruit bowl, it's easy to see why the US consistently ranks among the most obese countries in the world.

People come in all shapes and sizes, and there are legitimate conditions that can affect weight, but it's important to find the balance between being happy with the skin you're in and maintaining your health. This article is in no way an attack on people's weight or lifestyle choices but is here to highlight the growing relationship between two of the biggest killers in the US, obesity, and cancer. 

Obesity and Cancer

The obesity statistics are alarming, considering the fact that there is a link between obesity and cancer. Every condition that our bodies are exposed to affect how they work. The human body is very sensitive, chemically, and the obesity and cancer link is not something to shrug off. There are strong correlations between obesity and cancer. Some obesity-related cancers include:

  • Endometrial Cancer,
  • Esophageal Adenocarcinoma
  • Gastric Cardia Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Meningioma
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer

There is a very strong link between obesity and breast cancer, especially. Women who become obese after menopause are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to the fact that estrogen levels are raised. Also, obesity causes insulin levels to spike, which is a risk factor for cancer. The same goes for women who are overweight.

Interestingly, it was found that the risk of breast cancer is slightly reduced when overweight or obese women are overweight or obese prior to menopause.

Extra attention should be put on breast cancer because it is the second highest form of cancer that kills women in the US. The number one cancer that kills women is lung cancer. Breast cancer is also number two when it comes to the most diagnosed cancer—with skin cancer being number one. Obesity and breast cancer are endemic in American society. The fact that breast cancer rates are so high among Americans raises red flags, especially since the rates of obesity are high. Obesity and breast cancer are so prevalent that correlations between the two must be studied.

The correlations of obesity and breast cancer point to the idea that we have to be educated about nutrition and exercise. Information about obesity and breast cancer should be considered when making public health laws.

Other Cancers

It is worth it to look at the obesity-cancer link when looking at other cancers. There is a tendency for obese people to have eating habits that lead to acid reflux. Acid reflux is when stomach acid goes up into the esophagus. Certain foods, like fatty foods, can cause acid reflux to happen. Other things such as mint, spicy foods, chocolate, and onions cause it. Eating a large meal and laying down, as well as not getting proper exercise, are also culprits.

Obesity related cancers other than breast cancer that women are specifically more at risk to include ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. If you are unfamiliar with endometrial cancer, it is cancer that strikes the lining of the uterus. Obese women are four times more likely to get endometrial cancer and about 10% more likely to get ovarian cancer.

Another obesity-related cancer is renal cancer--cancer of the kidneys. Obesity affects blood pressure, which negatively affects the kidneys. Also, whatever unhealthy things obese people put into their bodies might strengthen that obesity-cancer link when it comes to renal cancer.

One of the more odd-sounding and alarming obesity-related cancers is called meningioma, a type of brain tumor that grows in the membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain. The obesity-cancer link is obvious because obese people are 50% more likely to get this type of cancer.

How To Kick The Risk Of Obesity-Related Cancers

If you want to avoid the cancer risks of being obese, there are a number of ways to improve your health. While it may require some small lifestyle changes, it's a small price to pay to reduce your risk of cancer. One way to start is by getting 20 minutes of exercise 5 times a week or replacing a fast food meal with a healthy, home-cooked option instead. Make sure to talk to your doctor or physician about other ways you can get back in shape, or reduce your risk of developing weight-related diseases.

To help avoid obesity and cancer, it's also wise to think about your mental well-being. Health consists of physical, social and emotional health. Those types of health are broken up into subcategories, and these subcategories differ based on what source you are looking at. Obesity and cancer are looming above people who do not properly tend to their emotional and social needs. Sometimes people are not fulfilled, emotionally and/or socially, so they eat their problems away. Obesity and cancer soon follow.