Cancer and Obesity
By: Sarah Christensen, PA
The effects of obesity on health have long been studied. It is not surprising that many types of cancer seem to be associated with obesity. One 16 year study from the American Cancer Society followed nearly 900,000 people and found that men with a BMI greater than 40 had a 52% increase in risk and death from cancer whereas women had a 62% increase with similarly high BMI.
Multiple studies show that obesity contributes to a significant number of cancer-related deaths each year. In 2014 it was estimated that obesity contributed to 40% of cancer in the United States. Cancers associated with obesity include:
- Endometrial cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
One study suggests that obesity causes up to 90,000 cancer deaths per year. As the BMI increases, so does the risk of death from cancer.
Recent studies show a similar correlation with reduction in weight and reduction in cancer-related deaths. A 7 year study of 9,949 patients who underwent bariatric surgery had a 60% reduction of cancer related deaths compared to a control group. As cancer treatment continues to improve with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other forms of treatment, it is important to note the impact of obesity treatment to aide in reducing the risk of cancer related deaths.
As we continue the fight against cancer, we cannot ignore the benefits of weight loss. Out late Dr. Sherman Smith, MD, stated, “We remain hopeful that other successful bariatric procedures will carry this same kind of highly favorable impact upon future wellness of those who choose surgical treatment of this very difficult condition.”
About the Author:
Sarah Christensen joined Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians as a Physician Assistant in August 2015. She attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah with both academic and musical scholarships and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 2009. She then completed her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho in 2011. Prior to joining Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians, Sarah spent 3.5 years working in liver transplant, managing end-organ failure and post-transplant care. She is certified by the National Commission for Certification of Physician Assistants.
- ASMBS, The Impact of Obesity on Your Body and Health. Retrieved from https://asmbs.org/patients/impact-of-obesity
- Calle, Eugenia E., et al. “Overweight, obesity, and mortality from cancer in a prospectively studied cohort of US adults.” New England Journal of Medicine 348.17 (2003): 1625-1638
- Steele CB, Thomas CC, Henley SJ, et al. “Vital Signs: Trends in Incidence of Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity – United States, 2005-2014.” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017; 66: 1052.
- Adams, Ted D. Gress, Richard E. et al. “Long-Term Mortality after Gastric Bypass Surgery.” New England Journal of Medicine 357 (2007): 753-761.
- Mackenzie H, Markar SR, Askari A, et al. “Obesity surgery and risk of cancer.” Br J Surg 2018; 105: 1650.