Excess Body Fat Linked to Higher Cancer Risk, Poorer Cancer Survival

Approximately 100,500 cancers occurring in the US every year can be attributed to excess body fat, according to estimates from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

According to AICR, the estimated number of cancers linked to excess body fat include:

49% of endometrial cancers    = 20,700 cases/year
35% of esophageal cancers       = 5,800 cases/year
28% of pancreatic cancers        = 11,900 cases/year
24% of kidney cancers             = 13, 900 cases/year
21% of gallbladder cancers       = 2,000 cases/year
17 % of breast cancers             = 33,000 cases/year
9% of colorectal cancers          = 13,200 cases/year
TOTAL: 100,500 cases/year

Researchers note that carrying excess body fat increases cancer risk, makes treatment more difficult and shortens survival.  Excess body fat increases the body’s level of sex steroids and other hormones that are linked to cancer growth. For example, fat tissue produces estrogen; studies have shown that estrogen promotes cell proliferation in breast tumors that contain receptors for the hormone, known as ER positive tumors.  Recent studies show that excess body fat lowers immune function and increases oxidative stress, which can lead to DNA damage.

This new research also shows that obesity continue to play a negative role after cancer has been successfully treated.  The good news is that an increasing number of studies suggest that regular physical activity improves cancer survival, even among survivors who are overweight or obese.

SOURCE:  New Estimate: Excess Body Fat Alone Causes Over 100,000 Cancers in US Each Year, American Institute for Cancer Research, Nov. 5, 2009, http://www.aicr.org/site/News2/1699885429?abbr=pr_&page=NewsArticle&id=17333&news_iv_ctrl=1102