*Obesity will soon overtake smoking as the main cause of cancer.
*30 per cent of the world’s population are overweight or obese.
* Throughout the world, obesity is responsible for around five per cent of all deaths each year.
obesity is a significant public health problem in the USA, and since 1990 rates have dramatically increased throughout the world, including Spain. In many American states, more than 36% of adults and 17% of children and adolescents are obese. In Spain the figures do not differ greatly, according to data shown in the Nutritional Study of the Spanish Population (ENPE). These figures relate to those people who have too much body fat when compared to lean body tissue, such as muscle. There are many factors which can lead to being overweight or obese, including genetic, hormonal, environmental, emotional and cultural factors.
Obesity contributes significantly to the development of the main noncommunicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, in terms of both risk and mortality. Up to 84,000 cancer diagnoses are attributed to obesity each year, with overweight and obesity being involved in 15% to 20% of total cancer-related mortality.
Several studies have explored why overweight or obesity can increase the risk and growth of cancer. The possible cancer-related causes include:
● Increase in levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which can increase the development of some cancers.
● Mild chronic inflammation, which is more common in obese people and is related to an increased risk of cancer.
● High quantities of oestrogen produced by fatty tissue which can promote the development of some cancers, such as cancer of the breast and endometrium.
● Fat cells also have an effect on the processes which regulate the growth of cancerous cells.
For decades smoking was one of the main causes of cancer, but this is about to change.
According to cancer specialists gathered at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), obesity will probably take its place as the main cause of 10 different types of cancer in the next decade.
It is therefore important to raise awareness of the relationship between obesity and cancer risk, as despite the strong links between the two, the majority of people do not know that obesity increases the risk of developing or dying from cancer. Obesity is also associated with a worse prognosis after a cancer diagnosis. It has a negative impact on the administration of systemic oncology treatment and can increase the risk of secondary malignant tumours and comorbidities.
Research shows that the time after a cancer diagnosis can be a good time to motivate people to adopt a healthy lifestyle which reduces the risks, including losing weight, stopping smoking, eating more healthily, exercising etc.
Fortunately, researchers are starting to understand the power of lifestyle changes as well as medication, in the treatment of obesity.
It has been scientifically proven that correctly prescribed physical exercise can be practised without risk during, and after, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. However, it is necessary to adapt the intensity, duration, weekly frequency and type of exercise to the general condition of the patient. The key is to ensure that the exercise does not carry any risk, in other words, to wait until the surgeon gives the go ahead following surgery and/or wait until the oncologist considers that the patient’s general condition is suitable when undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
Dr. Hernán Cortés- Funes, Director of HC Oncology Unit, Marbella, present at the meeting points out: “Exercise is so powerful against cancer that it should always be prescribed as part of the treatment of the condition, as exercise creates a hostile environment for cancer cells”.
Sources: AMERICAN Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO/) National Cancer Institute. Obesity and Cancer.
July 17, 2018
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