Being obese has overtaken smoking as the main cause of four common types of cancer.
Cancer Research UK (CRUK), a research and outreach foundation in the United Kingdom, concluded after a recent investigation that cancers of the intestine, kidney, ovary and liver are probably more the product of overweight than of smoking.
The organization warns that millions of people are at risk due to excess weight and that Obese numbers exceed those of smokers by two to one.
To highlight the seriousness of the risks associated with obesity, CRUK began a campaign with a billboard that has been criticized because it resembles warnings on cigarette packages that seek to curb tobacco use.
The billboards that warn about the risks of obesity and cancer have been criticized.
CRUK is not the only specialized entity that draws attention to the relationship between cancer and overweight. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Cancer Institute in the United States, among others, have emphasized this relationship.
Cancer Research UK says it is not suggesting that obesity and smoking can be directly compared in terms of cancer risk. Both increase the risk.
While overweight and obesity cause about 22,800 cases of cancer per year in the UK, compared with 54,300 cases caused by smoking, the organization highlights four specific types of cancer and their causes:
- Intestinal– About 42,000 new cases; overweight or obesity cause 4,800; smoking 2,900
- Renal– 12,900 in total; overweight or obesity cause 2,900; smoking 1,600
- Hepatic– 5,900 in total; overweight or obesity cause 1,300 cases; smoking 1,200
- Ovarian– 7,500 in total; overweight or obesity cause 490 cases a year; smoking 25
Smoking continues to be the main preventable cause of cancer in its entirety. Obesity in the second, according to CRUK.
But nevertheless, even though The number of smokers is decreasing, the one obesyou is increasing, something that worries health experts.
In spite of everything, smoking continues to be the main cause of cancer.
How does obesity act in terms of cancer?
Although the links between obesity and cancer are well established, the related biological mechanisms are not fully understood.
The US Centers for Disease Control explains that it is difficult to define the causes of cancer due to obesity because obese people can exhibit other factors of behavior different from their body weight.
Being obese or Being overweight does not mean that a person will definitely develop cancer, but the risk does increase.
And that risk grows the more weight a person earns and the longer they maintain it.
Fat cells produce hormones that can stimulate the growth of cancer cells.
Fat cells overproduce hormones and growth factors that tell the cells of the body to divide more often. That increases the chance that more cancer cells will be produced.
The obese often have chronic levels of inflammation slight that can, over time, damage DNA and generate cancer.
Other possible mechanisms that may affect cancer risk include changes in the mechanical properties of the structure surrounding the breast cells and the alteration in the response of the immune system.
According to Cancer Research UK, there are 13 types of cancer that are linked to obesity: • breast (in postmenopausal women) • intestinal • pancreatic • esophagus • hepatic • kidney • upper part of the stomach • gallbladder • uterine • ovarian • thyroid • multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood) • meningioma (brain cancer)
The links between obesity and cancer are only present in adults, although a healthy weight is also recommended in children.
The results of the Cancer Research UK research coincide with a current debate on the role of authorities in reducing the problem of obesity.
According to Professor Linda Bauld, CRUK expert, the government should take more measures to control obesity, as the advertising restriction of unhealthy foods and sugary drinks, as recommended by the British Medical Association.
“While we are very aware of the risks associated with smoking, less efforts have been made to address obesity, which has become one of the leading causes of cancer,” Bauld said.
The WHO, which also advocates a tax on sugary foods and soft drinks to reduce consumption, raises a strategy that covers several sectors of society including families, food companies and government agencies to combat a problem that is considered “epidemic” in many parts of the world.