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The Obesity and Cancer Link

Posted 11/4/2014

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  There has been growing attention and research about the link/association between obesity and cancer risk or cancer recurrence risk. It is shocking and unsettling to many of us to actually gain weight during and after cancer treatment. One of the ways to divide the world, I think, is people who stop eating when they are stressed and people who can't stop eating when they are stressed. Immediately after diagnosis, unless symptoms are interfering, most of us fall into one or the other of those camps.

  The surprising part is the weight gain that often accompanies chemotherapy. Those pounds are partly due to drugs (steroids are especially notorious), partly due to diminished activity, partly due to nibbling, our normal use of food to soothe ourselves and our tummies. Most people find that, while eating may not make you feel better while on chemo, not eating makes you feel worse. So, we nibble. Finally, chemotherapy generally slows down metabolism and, in some cases, throws women into menopause where weight is naturally more of an issue.

  After treatment, we likely find that those additional pounds are not so easy to lose. Bet we all remember being able to eat absolutely anything we wanted when we were 20--and then maybe just passing on the ice cream for a few days to lose the pounds we didn't want. No more.

  To this end, we have started a monthly weight management program for women after treatment. We had our first successful meeting yesterday, and I am happy to tell you more about it if you are interested.

  This is all an introduction to a piece from CNN about obesity and cancer. Here is the start and a link:

The link between fat and cancer
By Jacque Wilson , CNN

(CNN) -- You likely know that being overweight increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But did you know it also increases your risk for cancer?
If you didn't, you're not alone. While around 90% of Americans know that smoking is linked to higher rates of cancer, Dr. Clifford Hudis says, the inverse is true for obesity and cancer; less than 10% of us realize how fat is related to this chronic disease.
"Obesity is a major, under-recognized contributor to the nation's cancer toll and is quickly overtaking tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer," Hudis and his colleagues at the American Society of Clinical Oncology write in a new position paper.
In fact, as many as 84,000 cancer diagnoses each year are linked to obesity, according to the National Cancer Institute. Excess fat also affects how cancer treatments work and may increase a cancer patient's risk of death, either from cancer or from other related causes.
The key word, Hudis says, is preventable. While we can't change the fact that we're all getting older (incidence rates for most cancers increase as patients age), we can change our weight through diet, exercise, sleep and stress management.


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