If you haven’t seen it yet, where have you been? Plastered over the television, bus shelters and billboards around towns and cities all across England in the recent weeks has been Cancer Research UK’s new campaign to warn people of the danger of obesity when it comes to cancer.
‘OB_S_ _ Y is a cause of cancer’ reads the campaign, or as the charity put it, an advertisement. The most sobering game of hangman you’ll ever play isn’t just for fun, however. There’s a serious point to it, that obesity is linked to 13 separate forms of cancer, yet only 15% of people know that.
Cancer Research claim that breast cancer, bowel cancer, cancer of the womb and oesophagus, pancreatic cancer, kidney, liver, upper stomach cancer, gallbladder, ovarian, thyroid, myeloma and meningioma cancer are all linked to being obese.
The correlation between obesity and cancer is a stark one. Those who are obese are almost twice as likely to develop liver, kidney, upper stomach or esophageal cancer, whilst obese women are two to four times likely to develop endometrial cancer, otherwise known as cancer of the uterus lining.
The link between the two comes as a result of three things. Obesity leads to an increase in insulin, which alongside other growth factors causes cells to divide more often and results in a higher risk of these cells turning cancerous. When you have excess fat cells in the body, more specialised immune cells are sent to them to remove dead and dying cells. These immune cells release chemicals known as cytokines, which leads to inflammation. As a result of inflammation the cells divide quicker and raise the risk of cancer in the same way as an increase of insulin. In women, after the menopause oestrogen produced by fat cells leads to quicker division in the breast and womb and increases the risk of cancer in these areas, which are the two types of cancer with the closest link to obesity.
The commonly known consequences of obesity are nowhere near as severe as this. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and the risk of a heart attack or stroke are all well known to be more likely if you are carrying excess timber and despite the recent advances in the treatment and survival rate of cancer patients, the threat and fear of the words ‘you have cancer’ are still one of the most feared in the country today.
It just goes to show how important not only education is around the fact obesity can cause cancer, but how crucial it is people who are at risk of some of the most deadly cancers known, due to their weight, are made aware of the dangers of obesity.
It is crucial we tell our loved ones, our friends and family and ensure they’re telling their friends and family and make sure we spread the word of just how dangerous obesity is.
But if you are reading this and you are obese then that doesn’t mean you should panic. The risk of cancer reduces with every pound and stone you lose. Get to the gym, get on a treadmill or an exercise bike as even half an hour a day on your lunch break, after or before work can reduce your risk of becoming a cancer patient. Lose the pounds before it’s too late.