67% of men and 60% of women who were admitted to hospital, are obese, according to latest NHS figures. They also show that Childhood obesity rates have been steadily increasing over the last several decades. 20% of children are now obese.
Obesity is a disease that affects all Cancer aspects; Cancer risk, Cancer detection, Cancer diagnosis, Cancer treatment response, and Cancer survival. 52% obese men and 62% obese women risk falling ill with Cancer, compared with people of normal weight.
Not only is Obesity associated with a higher risk of no less than 13 types of Cancer, it is also associated with poorer survival rates for many Cancers, including Leukaemia, Breast, Colon, and Prostate.
We now know that obesity increases the risk of the following Cancers:
Oesophagus; Blood cells, (multiple Myeloma); Kidney; Upper Stomach; Gallbladder; Colon/Rectum; Thyroid; Liver; Pancreas; Meningioma, (tissue covering brain & spinal cord), as well as gynaecological Cancers of the Ovary, Uterus, Cervix and Breast.
In addition, the covid-19 pandemic has created new challenges. For example, there is a need to understand the complex interplay between obesity and immune responses to viral infections such as Covid-19. That interplay creates a potential risk of severe complications for Cancer patients who are obese. Another concern is the conditions created by the pandemic are promoting weight gain, alcohol abuse, stress and isolation as well as lack of screening or testing for cancer by a stretched NHS.
More research is needed to fully understand how Obesity affects the risk of Cancer, its progression and treatment. More precise strategies at government level need to be developed to prevent adult and child Obesity. Without intervention, the Obesity epidemic will result in more adult Cancers and create a possible future of Cancer in overweight or obese children.
This is the first of two blogs on Cancer and Obesity Information from the NCI and NHS.
Obesity and Cancer: Pursuing Precision Public Health