Is Cancer Linked to Obesity?


Excess weight and obesity can increase the risk of developing many life-threatening conditions, including cancer. The National Cancer Institute cited a recent study showing that, in 2007, an estimated 84,000 new cases of cancer occurred as a result of obesity. There are many different types of cancers, and our experienced bariatric surgeon, Dr. James N. Parrish, explains that some are more directly linked to excess weight than others.

The cancers most closely associated with obesity affect a wide range of systems, and they include:

  • Breast (after menopause)
  • Colon and rectum
  • Esophagus
  • Endometrium (uterine lining)
  • Gallbladder
  • Kidney
  • Thyroid
  • Pancreas

The reasons why excess fat contributes to an increased risk of cancer are varied and not fully understood. Many doctors and scientists believe it’s due to the fact that fat cells produce hormones (like estrogen and insulin) that may stimulate cell growth and promote tumor development. Fatty tissue may also alter immune response. While the reasons behind the relationship are not fully clear, a link between obesity and cancer has been established.

Cancer isn’t the only concern for those who are overweight. Patients who would benefit from significant weight loss may want to consider bariatric surgery from an extensively trained surgeon like Dr. Parrish. For more information, we encourage you to speak with our skilled medical team.