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Can Obesity Increase Cancer Risk?: January 30, 2017

Being overweight can put you at risk for many different health problems, but doctors say it can also increase you risk for cancer.

Dr. Constantine Mantz, a radiation oncologist on the medical staff with Lee Health, says women who are obese are at a higher risk for developing breast and uterine cancer. “Obesity does increase one’s risk for certain types of cancer. For all patients, other types of gastrointestinal cancer and colorectal cancer are at high risk of development with obesity.”

To determine if a patient is at risk for any of these cancers, doctors first use the BMI chart to determine if the patient is overweight or obese. Patients who have a BMI higher than 25 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI higher than 30 are considered obese. “We look at BMI as a risk factor for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, and also for prostate cancer,” said Dr. Mantz.

Patients with high levels of belly fat are at a greater risk for developing cancer. “What we observe is higher levels of estrogen in women, and in all patients’ insulin, and something called insulin like growth factor, which is a different type of protein. All of these enzymes stimulate cell growth,” said Dr. Mantz.

That growth can produce abnormal cells in the body which can develop into cancer. Doctors recommend all patients maintain a healthy BMI through physical activity and healthy eating.

 

Bottom line - if you’re going away for the holidays, don’t leave your safety precautions at home.


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