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      Obesity and cancer risk: evidence, mechanisms, and recommendations

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          Abstract

          Obesity, a growing health problem worldwide, has been associated with the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and other chronic diseases. Recently, the obesity–cancer link has received much attention. Epidemiological studies have shown that obesity is also associated with increased risk of several cancer types, including colon, breast, endometrium, liver, kidney, esophagus, gastric, pancreatic, gallbladder, and leukemia, and can also lead to poorer treatment and increased cancer-related mortality. Biological mechanisms underlying the relationship between obesity and cancer are not well understood. They include modulation of energy balance and calorie restriction, growth factors, multiple signaling pathways, and inflammatory processes. Key among the signaling pathways linking obesity and cancer is the PI3K/Akt/mTOR cascade, which is a target of many of the obesity-associated factors and regulates cell proliferation and survival. Understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the obesity–cancer connection is important in developing potential therapeutics. The link between obesity and cancer underscores the recommendation to maintain a healthy body weight throughout life as one of the most important ways to protect against cancer.

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          Most cited references 65

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          Global cancer statistics.

          The global burden of cancer continues to increase largely because of the aging and growth of the world population alongside an increasing adoption of cancer-causing behaviors, particularly smoking, in economically developing countries. Based on the GLOBOCAN 2008 estimates, about 12.7 million cancer cases and 7.6 million cancer deaths are estimated to have occurred in 2008; of these, 56% of the cases and 64% of the deaths occurred in the economically developing world. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among females, accounting for 23% of the total cancer cases and 14% of the cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cancer site in males, comprising 17% of the total new cancer cases and 23% of the total cancer deaths. Breast cancer is now also the leading cause of cancer death among females in economically developing countries, a shift from the previous decade during which the most common cause of cancer death was cervical cancer. Further, the mortality burden for lung cancer among females in developing countries is as high as the burden for cervical cancer, with each accounting for 11% of the total female cancer deaths. Although overall cancer incidence rates in the developing world are half those seen in the developed world in both sexes, the overall cancer mortality rates are generally similar. Cancer survival tends to be poorer in developing countries, most likely because of a combination of a late stage at diagnosis and limited access to timely and standard treatment. A substantial proportion of the worldwide burden of cancer could be prevented through the application of existing cancer control knowledge and by implementing programs for tobacco control, vaccination (for liver and cervical cancers), and early detection and treatment, as well as public health campaigns promoting physical activity and a healthier dietary intake. Clinicians, public health professionals, and policy makers can play an active role in accelerating the application of such interventions globally.
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            Cancer statistics, 2012.

            Each year, the American Cancer Society estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected in the United States in the current year and compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival based on incidence data from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. A total of 1,638,910 new cancer cases and 577,190 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the United States in 2012. During the most recent 5 years for which there are data (2004-2008), overall cancer incidence rates declined slightly in men (by 0.6% per year) and were stable in women, while cancer death rates decreased by 1.8% per year in men and by 1.6% per year in women. Over the past 10 years of available data (1999-2008), cancer death rates have declined by more than 1% per year in men and women of every racial/ethnic group with the exception of American Indians/Alaska Natives, among whom rates have remained stable. The most rapid declines in death rates occurred among African American and Hispanic men (2.4% and 2.3% per year, respectively). Death rates continue to decline for all 4 major cancer sites (lung, colorectum, breast, and prostate), with lung cancer accounting for almost 40% of the total decline in men and breast cancer accounting for 34% of the total decline in women. The reduction in overall cancer death rates since 1990 in men and 1991 in women translates to the avoidance of about 1,024,400 deaths from cancer. Further progress can be accelerated by applying existing cancer control knowledge across all segments of the population, with an emphasis on those groups in the lowest socioeconomic bracket. Copyright © 2012 American Cancer Society, Inc.
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              Overweight, obesity, and mortality from cancer in a prospectively studied cohort of U.S. adults.

              The influence of excess body weight on the risk of death from cancer has not been fully characterized. In a prospectively studied population of more than 900,000 U.S. adults (404,576 men and 495,477 women) who were free of cancer at enrollment in 1982, there were 57,145 deaths from cancer during 16 years of follow-up. We examined the relation in men and women between the body-mass index in 1982 and the risk of death from all cancers and from cancers at individual sites, while controlling for other risk factors in multivariate proportional-hazards models. We calculated the proportion of all deaths from cancer that was attributable to overweight and obesity in the U.S. population on the basis of risk estimates from the current study and national estimates of the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the U.S. adult population. The heaviest members of this cohort (those with a body-mass index [the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters] of at least 40) had death rates from all cancers combined that were 52 percent higher (for men) and 62 percent higher (for women) than the rates in men and women of normal weight. For men, the relative risk of death was 1.52 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.13 to 2.05); for women, the relative risk was 1.62 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.40 to 1.87). In both men and women, body-mass index was also significantly associated with higher rates of death due to cancer of the esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and kidney; the same was true for death due to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Significant trends of increasing risk with higher body-mass-index values were observed for death from cancers of the stomach and prostate in men and for death from cancers of the breast, uterus, cervix, and ovary in women. On the basis of associations observed in this study, we estimate that current patterns of overweight and obesity in the United States could account for 14 percent of all deaths from cancer in men and 20 percent of those in women. Increased body weight was associated with increased death rates for all cancers combined and for cancers at multiple specific sites. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Medical and Research Technology, University of Maryland School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland
                [2 ]Department of Pathology, University of Maryland School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland
                [3 ]Department of Orthopaedics, University of Maryland School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland
                Author notes
                Address for correspondence: Ivana Vucenik, Ph.D., Department of Medical and Research Technology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 100 Penn Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. ivucenik@ 123456som.umaryland.edu

                Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Terms and Conditions set out at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/onlineopen#OnlineOpen_Terms

                Journal
                Ann N Y Acad Sci
                Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci
                nyas
                Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
                Blackwell Publishing Inc (Malden, USA )
                0077-8923
                1749-6632
                October 2012
                10 October 2012
                : 1271
                : 1
                : 37-43
                23050962
                3476838
                10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06750.x
                © 2012 New York Academy of Sciences.

                Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.

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                mechanisms, prevention, obesity, cancer, recommendations

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