Obesity and Cancer

Considerable evidence has shown that being overweight plays an important role in the development of cancer.  Based on the American Cancer Society’s 2002 estimates for cancer incidence, 51% of all new cancers diagnosed among women were directly related to obesity.  Among men, cancers linked to obesity comprise approximately 14% of all new cancers.  In terms of mortality, for women obesity-related cancers cause 28% of cancer-related deaths, and for men, obesity-related cancers are estimated to cause 13% of cancer-related deaths.

Now, a recent study has looked at the effect of excess weight on the surgical treatment of men with prostate cancer.  Specifically, the study looked at the newest, advanced robotic technique for prostatectomy and analyzed the effect of excess weight on the difficulty in performing this surgery.  When normal weight patients (BMI=18 – 25) were compared with patients who were overweight (BMI=25-30) or obese patients (BMI greater than 30), they found a significant difference in outcomes.  For overweight and obese men there was more bleeding during surgery, the surgery time was longer (30 minutes longer for obese men) and obese patients stayed in the hospital one extra day.

This study sends a clear message that being overweight not only increases a person’s risk of developing and dying from cancer but being overweight makes surgery for cancer more difficult and costlier. In short, the results from surgery to treat cancer are worse for overweight or obese patients than for patients who are at a normal, healthy weight.  This is just one more reason to stress the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. 

For people who need help controlling their weight, The N.E.W. Program provides a new non-surgical weight control program in addition to a surgical program. Neither program promotes traditional diets, and both programs promote lifestyle management as the key to achieve long-term healthy weight goals.

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