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Cancers

  1. Cancer is a term for a group of diseases characterized by excessive, abnormal cell growth.
  2. The relationship between cancer and obesity is a complex one. It had not previously been shown that reducing weight would decrease the incidence of cancer, until a trial in 2007, where patients who had undergone bariatric surgery were shown to have a reduced incidence of cancer. The mechanism for this is still unknown, but obviously provides support for weight loss in an attempt to reduce the risk of cancer.
  3. Dr Andrew G Renehan et al recently published in The Lancet the results of their analysis of 141 scientific publications relating to 282 137 incident cases. In men, a 5kg/m2 increase in BMI was strongly associated with oesophageal adenocarcinoma (RR 1•52, p<0•0001) and colon cancers (RR 1•24, p<0•0001). In women, they recorded strong associations between a 5kg/m2 increase in BMI and gallbladder adenocarcinoma (1•59, p=0.04) and oesophageal adenocarcinoma (1•51, p<0•0001). They noted weaker positive associations (RR <1•20) between increased BMI and rectal cancer in men and pancreatic and colon cancers in women. These findings of increased risks of gastrointestinal cancers were alongside increased risks for thyroid, renal, post-menopausal breast and endometrial cancers, as well as melanoma, myeloma, leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas Their interpretation was that an increased BMI is associated with an increased risk of common and less common malignancies and that these epidemiological observations should inform the exploration of biological mechanisms that link obesity with cancer.