How is cancer linked to obesity?

Obesity increases the risk of developing cancers of the colon, pancreas, endometrium, and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. We used to think adipose tissue or body fat was inactive, and acted as a "shock absorber" for our organs, as well as acting like an insulator to keep us warm. We are learning that fat acts like an organ pumping out estrogen and other hormones like insulin like growth factor into the bloodstream. These hormones promote the growth of abnormal cells and inhibit cells from dying when they should. Losing a small amount of weight by reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity can help lower the amounts of these hormones in the blood.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Obesity increases cancer risk. The exact reasoning remains unclear, but fat cells are highly active, releasing large amounts of hormones like estrogen, insulin, and insulin-like growth factors that can fuel many cancers.

The risk for many types of cancers declines when you lose weight, but it's particularly true for breast and uterine cancer, where losing only 8 pounds can significantly reduce the levels of specific carcinogenic hormones.


This content originally appeared on

Continue Learning about Obesity

Stress and Obesity—What’s the Connection?
Stress and Obesity—What’s the Connection?
Janet Jackson talks about how she’s used food to soothe tension. In an interview with the Telegraph she once said: “Food has always brought me comfort...
Read More
Why are we fat when our ancestors were thin?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
The most common question heard among overweight people isn't: "Can I have more sour cream?" It's: "W...
More Answers
Is an obese or overweight teen at higher risk of suicide?
Brooke RandolphBrooke Randolph
Recent research shows a great suicide risk for teens that are overweight or believe that they ar...
More Answers
What Is the Most Critical Medical Issue Americans Face?
What Is the Most Critical Medical Issue Americans Face?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.