New Study May Explain Link between Obesity and Colon Cancer

Obesity is a known risk factor for many diseases and cancer types, but studies have found a particularly strong link between obesity and colon cancer. Individuals who are overweight or obese are 50 percent more likely to develop colon cancer, and they have a greater risk of dying from the disease.

Obesity-related colon cancer is the 6th leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but experts have not been able to identify why obesity raises colon cancer risk. One theory suggests that high levels of insulin in obese individuals may signal cells to rapidly increase, a characteristic of cancer. However, recent findings published in the journal Cancer Research may shed new light on the obesity-colon cancer link.

Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University have discovered a biological connection that links obesity to the development of colon cancer. The investigators found that a high-calorie diet in lab mice inactivated a key hormone in the intestines which increased the risk for cancer. When this hormone was reactivated with the use of a particular drug, colon cancer development was prevented, even when the mice continued to eat a high-calorie diet.

"These findings came as a surprise — we and many other researchers worldwide have been trying to disentangle obesity from development of colorectal cancer. Calories sit in the middle of these two conditions, but the question of what they were doing has been one of the most perplexing and provocative questions in cancer research,” said lead researcher Dr. Scott Waldman (Source: Newsmax).

Further research is needed to fully understand the ties between obesity and cancer, but maintaining a healthy weight remains an important step in colon cancer prevention. To determine whether your body weight falls within a healthy range, begin by checking your body mass index (BMI). A healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. A BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30.0 or above is considered obese.

Additional healthy habits that can lower colon cancer risk include:

  • Staying physically active
  • Following a low-fat, high-fiber diet
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Eliminating tobacco products
  • Limiting intake of red meats, especially processed meats
  • Staying current with colonoscopy screenings (Source:
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