Prevention for Life
Weight Loss and Cancer
Does losing weight lower cancer risks? The answer is probably. For example, in Montreal
at McGill University Dr. Nicolas Christou discovered in a five year follow up that after patients
lost weight with gastric surgery, there risk of breast and colon cancers were reduced by up
to 85%. Pancreatic, skin, uterine, and lymphoma cancers were also reduced substantially.
All together, less than a quarter of patients on the study acquired cancer compared to the
control group (2% vs 8.5%).
Do we want to wait another forty years for more epidemiological evidence to shed more
answers before we take action like we did for smoking?
If you are already at high risk for cancer in other categories, such as having a strong family
history, don't wait. Talk to your doctor.
Breast Cancer Screening and Obesity
As a cancer doctor, if you have had a history of obesity for more than ten years, I would
strongly urge you to consider mammograms at least every other year starting in your 40's.
Your insurance company may refute the need, so be prepared for some extra costs.
Though there is no strong evidence for this yet, catching cancer in its early stages may save
your life. Many organizations recommend screening in your 40s anyway. So don't wait.
Uterine Cancer Screening and Obesity
Like breast cancer, screening for cancer with pap smears and pelvic exams may be
controversial for women with a history of obesity. Still, it may save your life if you can nip
cancer in the bud. These tests every two years in your 40's may be recommended anyway.
So talk to your doctor candidly about these issues.
avaliable: the BMI
Check your weight
against your height
to see if you are in
the obese range.
You may be at risk
for many diseases
If you are, take
Colon Cancer Screening and Obesity
Again, you may be at higher risk for colon cancer if you have had a several year history of obesity.
Should you get a Fecal Occult Blood test as early as your mid forties? Yes! This is a cheap and
minimally invasive test that could help the doctor decide whether other screening tests are
necessary. Still, especially if you are a higher risk patient, or if you are experiencing symptoms,
scoping tests may be a consideration that you should discuss.
What about other types of screening?
After colonoscopies, mammograms, and pap smears, there are no widely established
indications for universal screening, so talk to your doctor about individual diagnostic tests,
especially if you are at higher risk, or are experiencing symptoms that aren't only associated with
cancer, but also with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Cancer and Obesity
You probably already had a feeling that obesity was strongly
associated with diabetes and heart troubles. But did you know
that it causes cancer too?
Though scientists aren't exactly sure about the reason, it may
have to do with hormones such as estrogen that are made in
excess of normal by adipose (fat) tissue that could stimulate
certain cancer cells to over produce. This is particularly true in
breast and uterine cancer. Still, other cancers that aren't typically
stimulated by hormones such as colon, esophageal and
stomach cancer are associated with obesity. Though not
associated with higher numbers of prostate cancer patients,
obesity is linked to more advanced and aggressive cases of this
type. Many questions remain unanswered. Still, the association
is there, and irrefutable.
©2008 Lighten for Life All rights reserved.
Lighten for life does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.