When you bring up the topic of obesity, most people think of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and even strokes. There’s one disease that’s neglected, lurking in the shadows of modern-day gluttony and the obesity epidemic: cancer. While the origins of certain cases of cancer remain mysterious and challenging to pinpoint, researchers have found higher instances of cancer among individuals considered obese. Most of the evidence linking obesity to cancer comes from cohort studies, a type of observational study. Due to the nature of the studies, some people remain skeptical, regardless of how substantial the evidence may be. Below is a list of the various types of cancers that researchers have linked to obesity:
Multiple studies have found that having a high BMI and type 2 diabetes increases your risk of liver cancer. Obesity is known to cause type 2 diabetes, and diabetes can lead to cancer. According to the European Journal of Cancer, people who are obese are twice as likely to develop liver cancer. Also, men are more likely to develop liver cancer from being obese as opposed to women. Unfortunately, your lifespan decreases drastically with a liver cancer diagnosis. The 5-year survival rate for localized liver cancer is a measly 31%.
Another very fatal form of cancer caused by obesity is kidney cancer. People who are obese have a higher risk to develop Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC), a type of kidney cancer that starts in the lining of tubes in the kidney. Once RCC spreads outside the kidney, it becomes much deadlier. Also, high blood pressure is caused by obesity, and in turn, high blood pressure is a known cause of kidney cancer. Fortunately, survival rates of kidney cancer are much higher than that of liver cancer.
Obese individuals are 1.5 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the fatal cancers there is, much more lethal than liver cancer. The 5-year survival rate is only 6%. Obesity is often regarded as a risk factor that can be changed, similar to smoking. Although pancreatic cancer remains rare, there’s an increased risk the higher your BMI is.
If you’re not familiar with endometrial cancer, it’s a type of cancer that starts in the lining of the womb. It can spread to the rectum, vagina, ovaries, and more organs. More than half of endometrial cancers are caused in part by obesity. A woman who is morbidly obese is about seven times more likely to develop this form of cancer. If the cancer is caught early and only has spread regionally, the 5-year survival rate is 69%. Otherwise, it is 16%.
Gastric Cardia Cancer
Gastric Cardia Cancer, otherwise known as stomach cancer, is a rare form of cancer that begins as a tumor inside the stomach. Obesity is thought to be a cause for cancerous tumors to grow in the cardia (upper stomach). Some sources say that people who are obese are two times as likely to develop this type of cancer. The 5-year survival rate for cancer that’s localized in the stomach is 65%. If cancer has spread outside of the stomach, the 5-year survival rate drops down to 29%.
It’s safe to say that obesity has a strong link to some of the deadliest types of cancer. If obesity doesn’t have a direct link itself, then there could be a link between some of the side effects such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Remember, obesity is often considered a changeable risk factor, meaning it’s not too late to lose weight and increase your lifespan.