5 Serious Types of Cancer That Are Strongly Linked to Obesity

blue ribbon for cancer awareness

If you’ve been overweight growing up, now’s the time to think things over. Your health depends largely on your body weight, which is measured by your body mass index or BMI. BMI is calculated based on your weight and height as an adult. You can get your BMI by using a BMI calculator.

Individuals whose BMI falls below 18.5 are considered underweight or malnourished while young and middle-aged adults who have a BMI of around 18.5 to 24.9 are considered to be in a healthy weight range. For those whose BMI falls between 25.0 to 29.9 are said to be overweight and over 30, you’re obese.

Lots of factors are linked to obesity, including environmental, genetic, hormonal, cultural, and lifestyle factors. Yet, regardless of the cause for your excess weight, it’s not enough reason to stay that way. You should take extra measures to maintain a healthy weight.

Obesity and excess weight have been associated with serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and cancer. The link between obesity and cancer is due to the increased amounts of insulin and insulin growth factor, which may encourage cancer cells to grow; chronic low-level inflammation; higher levels of estrogen production; and fat cells’ effects on processes regulating cancer cells growth.

Some of the most common types of cancer linked to obesity are the following:

Meningioma

This type of cancer occurs in the tissue that covers the brain and the spinal cord. Being one of the most common types of tumors affecting the head, meningioma compresses the adjacent brain, nerves, and vessels.

This illness takes some time to develop and may often be diagnosed in older age. Despite its slow progress, meningioma can cause disability since it affects the adjacent brain, nerves, and vessels.

belly of obese manSome of the risk factors of meningioma include excess weight and obesity. Numerous studies show that overweight individuals are 21 percent more likely to develop a meningioma, which is a bit lower compared to obese individuals who are 51 percent more likely to develop one.

Symptoms of meningioma include vision problems, worse headaches, hearing and memory loss, loss of smell, weakness of arms and legs, and seizures.

Adenocarcinoma

Adenocarcinoma, the most common esophageal cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer death around the globe, affects most white men. The tumor cells start to grow along the lining of the esophagus, most often in the lower part of the esophagus.

Researchers proved that there is a correlation between higher BMI and an increased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma. The main risk factor for esophageal adenocarcinoma is an increased occurrence of GERD, triggered by abdominal fat distribution.

Abdominal fats promote an increase in intra-abdominal pressure that can lead to GERD. Adipocyte, a cell specializing in fat storage, secretes leptin, which in turn stimulates the proliferation of esophageal adenocarcinoma cells.

Unluckily, this type of cancer does not show any symptoms in its earlier stages. Once they show up, they include unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, coughing or hoarseness, and a worsened condition of heartburn.

Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood cells and is currently untreatable. It occurs when plasma, the blood white cells, form cancerous tumors in the bone marrow.

According to scientists, a high BMI can increase a person’s risk of developing multiple myeloma. Because science hasn’t yet found a cure for this disease, the experts advice to emphasize prevention.

Patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma had their physical activity monitored to see whether mobility can decrease the risk. However, the researchers didn’t see any improvements despite the increased physical activity of patients. Hence, their most important advice is to maintain a healthy weight while younger and throughout life to prevent the risk of this disease.

Kidney

Health experts say that kidney function starts to decline over time, which is normal. But an increase in kidney malfunction has been found in severely obese patients. Abdominal fats or belly fats can have a profound impact on kidney function. The excess weight can activate the sympathetic nervous system of the body, which triggers the release of the fight or flight hormones that can lead to increased sodium retention and increased blood pressure.

When this happens, the body can have difficulty removing excess sugars. Excessive amounts of blood sugar are likely to lead to diabetes. Additionally, any inflammation caused by belly fats is also harmful to the kidney.

But these metabolic abnormalities are reversible through proper weight management, thereby reducing the risk factors of kidney malfunction.

Thyroid

thyroid gland under magnifierObesity, especially central obesity, has also been linked to endocrine problems such as thyroid dysfunction. The link can be direct since the thyroid is responsible for regulating energy metabolism and thermogenesis.

The thyroid’s crucial functions also include glucose and lipid metabolism, food intake, and fatty acid oxidation. Any changes in the body’s weight, particularly weight gain, decreased thermogenesis, and metabolic rate can impact the thyroid’s functions.

While the common belief that a poor functioning thyroid can lead to either unexplained weight loss or weight gain, health experts say it can be the other way around. Excessive weight can be the culprit for the thyroid to weaken and obesity can be a major risk factor of thyroid cancer.

Epidemiologist Cari Kitahara reveals that a person with low functioning thyroid can have high thyroid releasing hormone or TSH. An imbalance in TSH levels can cause problems including muscles, breathing, and body temperature while an increase in TSH levels can be a risk of developing thyroid cancer since TSH fuels the growth of thyroid cells.

Dr. Kitahara explains that an increase of about 5 units in an individual’s BMI is enough to affect the thyroid hormone. Hence, the expert’s advice to obese individuals with normal thyroid function is to lose excess weight to prevent thyroid cancer risk.

Whether you’re younger or older, maintaining a healthy weight is important to prevent serious health issues associated with excess weight. Aside from the health incentives, you’ll also feel better and look better when you successfully manage your weight.

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