Obesity and Cancer

Till date Obesity was linked to hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke etc; Lately, conclusive research has shown that Obesity is a risk factor for Cancer as well.

Various researches have revealed that high birth weight, obesity or a high body mass index (BMI) in early adulthood and losing and regaining weight repeatedly (yo-yo weight loss) are risk factors for cancer and mortality related to it. Thus it is very essential that as a young adult the body weight is maintained under control or within recommended limits to reduce the chances of developing cancer in later life.

Dr Chander Asrani

Among all the risk factors of cancers about 20% of it is being overweight/ obese! If the cancer prevention modalities are used rationally and effectively then more than 50% of cancer could be prevented. An ideal BMI if maintained between 21 to 24kg/m2, then it will go a long way in preventing cancer.

Following cancers have been found to be associated with obesity

  • Breast
  • Colon and rectum
  • Uterus
  • Kidney
  • Oesophagus
  • Pancreatic
  • Thyroid
  • Gallbladder


Awareness about wrong foods, which are found in every nook and corner of the streets as they are cheap should be avoided and to promote physical activity ie exercise is must.

Obese menopausal females, especially, need to reduce the weight as it reduces the risk of breast cancer by about 50%.

Morbidly obese individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery have been reported to have lower incidences of obesity-related cancers than obese people who did not have bariatric surgery.

Take home message

Thus it can be said with certainty that obesity is a well-established, accepted by medical fraternity and definitely avoidable cause of Cancer.

Dr Chander Asrani, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 37 years in family practice and has been offering wellness and disease management services to corporates. He is soon to launch virtual clinics.  He writes on various subjects of wellness; learning to live with chronic ailments and stress. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.

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