Obesity-related cancers are on the rise in India. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, breast, colorectal, and uterine cancer are the three most common cancers among women and are all linked to obesity. 

Obesity and cancer have a complicated relationship. Adipose tissue, or fat tissue in women, generates an excessive quantity of oestrogen, which is frequently linked to numerous malignancies like ovarian, endometrial, and breast cancer.

A disease known as hyperinsulinemia, which poses a cancer risk, develops in people with high amounts of insulin, especially in obese individuals. The colon, kidney, and prostate may develop cancer as a result.

Dr Aman Priya Khanna, Co-Founder at Hexa Health and General, Laser, Bariatric and Minimal Access Surgeon shares more about the potential link between obesity and cancer.

Obesity causes chronic low-grade inflammation, insulin resistance, and hormonal imbalances, leading to DNA damage and promoting cancer cell growth. 

The Indian population is facing a growing obesity epidemic. According to the National Family Health Survey, in 2019-2020, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults aged 15-49 was 24.7% and 6.9%, respectively.

A study published in the Lancet Oncology in 2018 estimated that around 4.5% of all cancer cases in India were attributable to overweight and obesity.

According to the National Cancer Registry Programme, the incidence of breast cancer in India has increased by more than 30% in the past three decades, partly attributed to lifestyle changes such as increased consumption of calorie-dense foods and decreased physical activity.

Obese cancer patients have an increased risk of recurrence and mortality than non-obese patients, mainly due to the impact of obesity on treatment response, immune function, and hormonal balance.

Obesity can affect the efficacy and safety of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. For example, obese patients may require higher doses of chemotherapy drugs and may have a higher risk of surgical complications and delays in wound healing.

Obese cancer survivors may experience reduced quality of life due to the physical, emotional, and social challenges associated with obesity. They may also be at higher risk of developing other chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoarthritis.

Cancer care in obese patients is associated with higher healthcare costs, longer hospital stays, and increased use of healthcare resources. This can create a significant economic burden on patients, families, and healthcare systems.

Maintaining a healthy body weight through a balanced diet and regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of obesity-related cancers.

Public health interventions that promote healthy eating habits, physical activity, and weight management are crucial in reducing the burden of cancer in India.

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