Obesity-related Cancers on the Rise Worldwide

What You Need to Know: A quarter of all obesity-related cancers worldwide in 2012 were attributable to the rising average body mass index (BMI) in the population since 1982, and were therefore “realistically avoidable”.
 
The Study: Using data from a number of sources including the GLOBOCAN database of cancer incidence and mortality for 184 countries, Arnold and colleagues created a model to estimate the fraction of cancers associated with excess bodyweight in countries and regions worldwide in 2012, and the proportion that could be attributed to increasing BMI since 1982.
  • Obesity-related cancer is a greater problem for women than men, largely due to endometrial (womb/uterus) and post-menopausal breast cancers. In men, excess weight was responsible for 1.9% or 136,000 new cancers in 2012, and in women it was 5.4% or 345,000 new cases.
  • Post-menopausal breast, endometrial, and colon cancers were responsible for almost three-quarters of the obesity-related cancer burden in women (almost 250,000 cases), while in men colon and kidney cancers accounted for over two-thirds of all obesity-related cancers (nearly 90,000 cases).
  • In developed (very high human development index; HDI) countries, around 8% of cancers in women and 3% in men were associated with excess bodyweight, compared with just 1.5% of cancers in women and about 0.3% of cancers in men in developing countries (low HDI).
  • North America contributed by far the most cases with 111,000 cancers — equivalent to almost a quarter (23%) of all new obesity-related cancers globally — and sub-Saharan Africa contributed the least (7300 cancers or 1.5%). Within Europe, the burden was largest in eastern Europe, accounting for over a third of the total European cases due to excess BMI (66,000 cancers).

The proportion of obesity-related cancers varied widely between countries. In men, it was particularly high in the Czech Republic (5.5% of the country’s new cancer cases in 2012), Jordan and Argentina (4.5%), and in the UK and Malta (4.4%). In women, it was strikingly high in Barbados (12.7%), followed by the Czech Republic (12%) and Puerto Rico (11.6%). It was lowest in both sexes in countries within sub-Saharan Africa (less than 2% in men and below 4% in women).

The global prevalence of obesity in adults has doubled since 1980. If this trend continues it will certainly boost the future burden of cancer, particularly in South America and North Africa, where the largest increases in the rate of obesity have been seen over the last 30 years.” I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

My Take: Currently used gene signatures (including MammaPrint and OncoType DX) are associated with the probability of distant disease recurrence and are in clinical use as prognosticators. These signatures are primarily driven by genes reflecting the amount of cancer cell proliferation and the presence (or absence) or hormone receptors in the tumor. Now we have the exciting promise of adding in characteristics of the tumor microenvironment to offer better prognoses. I think this approach represents a fundamental change in how we approach cancer. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

 

 

Journal Reference:

  1. Melina Arnold, Nirmala Pandeya, Graham Byrnes, Andrew G Renehan, Gretchen A Stevens, Majid Ezzati, Jacques Ferlay, J Jaime Miranda, Isabelle Romieu, Rajesh Dikshit, David Forman, Isabelle Soerjomataram. Global burden of cancer attributable to high body-mass index in 2012: a population-based study. The Lancet Oncology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(14)71123-4

Drop That Cookie: Sweet, Starchy Foods May Be Linked to Uterus Cancer

obese fat woman

The Bottom Line: Sweet, starchy foods like sugar and white bread probably are linked to endometrial cancer, while coffee probably protects against it, researchers reported on this week. But obesity is probably the #1 causative agent. These are the conclusions of the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund International.

The Study: The two organizations assigned an international panel of experts to review the evidence in what’s called a meta-analysis (study of studies) for what might cause various cancers. The group, which tends to focus on the links between diet, exercise and cancer, chose endometrial (uterus) cancer for the latest review.

My Take: Women who are obese have two to three times the rate of endometrial cancer. People who are more active regularly tend to have a decreased rate of endometrial cancer. the team also found some surprising findings – the degree to which coffee can protect against the cancer, and the rates at which sugary, starchy foods increase it. So, coffee in moderation is probably not a bad idea. And watch the weight!

One of the authors is spot on when she observes: “The bottom line is you want to eat whole grains instead of refined grains and sugary foods,” She adds “all the findings are really pointing to the same thing – maintaining better glucose metabolism and maintaining a healthy body weight,” she added. “That means a healthy diet and regular exercise.” That these also help reduce the risk of many, many cancers is an added bonus. Enjoy that brisk walk today!

Reference: http://www.aicr.org/assets/docs/pdf/reports/2013-cup-endometrial-cancer.pdf

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minuteable now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.