While obesity is attributed as a major cause of cancer in a new study conducted by scientists, it also noted that major problem is for women, especially those in their menopausal stage, than men, and visibly more in developed countries.
The scientists have discovered that obesity leads to around 481,000 new cancer cases per year in adults, which is 3.6 percent of all cancer cases found in the world. The incidence of obesity-related cancer is significantly higher in developed countries with two-thirds of these cancer cases observed from North America and Europe.
Led by Dr Melina Arnold from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the study found that one-fourth of the obesity-related cancers in 2012 (118,000) were linked to rising high levels of body mass index (BMI) in the population studied since 1982.
The study was based on data from the Globocan database of cancer incidence and mortality for 184 countries. The researchers said the situation is “realistically avoidable” as their model developed to estimate the cancer and obesity connection from data worldwide in 2012 proved beneficial.
Coming to women, the findings reveal that obesity-linked cancer poses major challenge to women than men, mainly because of the endometrial (womb/uterus) and post-menopausal breast cancers. It was found that in men, excess weight led to 1.9 percent or 136,000 cases of new cancers in 2012, while in women it was 5.4 percent or 345,000 new cancer cases.
Women are prone to post-menopausal phase’s breast, endometrial, and colon cancers, which amount to three-fourth of the obesity-related cancer cases found in women (250,000 cases), while in men it was mostly found related to colon and kidney cancers, amounting to two-thirds of all such cancers (90,000 cases).
In terms of a nation’s status, developed countries were worst hit than developing nations in terms of obesity-linked cancers. About 8 percent of cancers in women and 3 percent of cancers in men were associated with obesity or excess body weight. In developing countries, it was minimal at 1.5 percent of cancers in women and about 0.3 percent of cancers in men.
Terming the situation is “realistically avoidable”, Arnold, the lead author of the study has called for a global effort to address the obesity menace, which has doubled in the world since 1980. With more instances of obesity-related cases being reported worldwide, he cautioned that it would result in more cancer cases, including South America and North Africa in the next decade.
The research findings have been published in the Lancet Oncology journal.