Cut your extra kilos: Obesity increases cancer risk

December 17th, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Reduce your extra weight! Obese people are nearly 50 percent more at risk of contracting cancer, said an American oncologist who is in India to present her work on the growing relation between obesity and cancer.“Cancer due to smoking is decreasing in the US but obesity-related cancer is slowly increasing. As India is home to a large number of obese people, the threat is quite high,” Paulette Mehta, a leading cancer specialist from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, told IANS.

Mehta said the fat cells release certain chemicals that increase the chance of cancer.

“While obesity increases the chance of esophagus (food pipe) cancer by 50 percent, it raises the chance of cancer in Thyroid gland by 33 percent,” she added.

The oncologist said that besides these types of cancer mainly found in men, obese males are prone to liver cancer too.

While 30 percent of Asian females including Indians are overweight, it is 15 percent for males in this region.

Cancer has become one of the 10 leading causes of death in India. It is estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million to 2 million cancer cases at any given point of time. Every year the country reports over 700,000 new cases of cancer and 300,000 people die every year due to the disease.

Talking about the threat of cancer among women, the expert said that obese women are prone to gall bladder cancer and post menopause breast cancer.

She said various studies had already shown the relation between the two disease and countries like India need to take extra care on this front.

“As smoking decreases, excess weight will become the number one cause of preventable cancer,” said Mehta adding that obese people with cancer have a greater morbidity rate.

“The morbidity level among obese cancer patients is quite high. The chance increases five fold in case of liver cancer patients,” she added.

Mehta is in Delhi to participate in the Indian Pharmacological Society’s annual conference being organised by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Jay Mehta, director of the Molecular Medicine at the University of Arkansas, said the body mass index in India should not be more than 22 kg per square metre. In case of China it should not be more than 18.5 kg. In the US, it is 25 kg.

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