Understanding obesity-cancer link to develop effective prevention strategies

In 2012, about 28,000 new cases of cancer in men (3.5%) and 72,000 in women (9.5%) were due to overweight or obesity in the United States alone. There is an urgent need for research that focuses on the cancer-promoting effects of obesity as it's the leading preventable cause of cancer for women and the second for men. Obesity may influence the development of cancer and cancer survivorship in part through metabolic dysregulation and chronic inflammation, though more research is warranted. By understanding the obesity-cancer link, we can identify and develop effective strategies to reduce the impact of obesity throughout the cancer continuum.

Top researchers, clinicians and surgeons from around the world have gathered for the fifth annual ObesityWeek conference at The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland this week. This weeklong conference includes prominent obesity and cancer speakers, sessions and abstracts.

Important obesity and cancer sessions and abstracts this week:

T-P-LB-3670 Improved Body Composition With Ketogenic Diet In Ovarian/Endometrial Cancer Patients

Authors: Caroline W Cohen, MS RD, Kevin Fontaine, PhD, Rebecca C Arend, Ronald D Alvarez, Charles A Leath, MD MSPH, Barbara A Gower, PhD


Obesity is associated with elevated circulating concentrations of insulin, glucose and the growth factor IGF-1, as well as elevated inflammation. All of these factors increase the risk for cancer. The hypothesis was that a ketogenic diet would improve body composition and lower insulin and IGF-I in women with ovarian or endometrial cancer.

"We showed that changing the composition of the diet (without stipulating calorie content) resulted in selective loss of total body fat and visceral fat, relative to a control diet. Lean mass (muscle) was preserved. To reduce risk for cancer, eat more fat and fewer carbs, particularly highly processed starches and sugars. Doing this will change the endocrine and metabolic physiology of the body in such a way as to reduce cancer risk," said Barbara A. Gower, PhD, Professor, Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama Birmingham.

T-P-3388 Bariatric Surgery And The Risk Of Cancer In A Multisite Cohort Of 88,625 Adults With Severe Obesity

Authors: Daniel Schauer, MD MSc, Heather Spencer Feigelson, PhD MPH, Corinna Koebnick, PhD, Bette Caan, DrPH, Sheila A Weinmann, PhD MPH, Anthony C Leonard, PhD, J David Powers, MS, Panduranga R Yenumula, MD, David Arterburn, MD MPH


Obesity is strongly associated with many types of cancer. It remains unclear if bariatric surgery can reduce the risk of cancer. The objective of this study was to determine whether bariatric surgery is associated with a lower risk of cancer. In this large, multisite cohort of patients with severe obesity, bariatric surgery was associated with a lower risk of incident cancer, particularly obesity-associated cancers, such as post-menopausal breast, endometrial, and colon cancer.

"This study demonstrated that patients undergoing bariatric surgery had a 33 percent lower risk of developing cancer during follow-up compared to matched non-surgical control patients. The benefit was greatest for obesity associated cancers, particularly postmenopausal breast, endometrial, colon and pancreatic cancers. With obesity associated cancers on the rise, understanding how intentional weight loss can mitigate the risk is an important step," said Daniel P. Schauer, MD, MSc, Associate Professor, Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Fanning The Flames Of Cancer With Obesity

Speakers: Stephen Hursting, PhD, MPH, RD, Andrew J. Dannenberg, MD, Paul S. MacLean, PhD

Presenting November 1 at 1:30-3:00pm

Population studies have repeatedly documented a link between obesity and the propensity to some cancers. Additionally, the low-grade inflammation that characterizes obesity is frequently perceived as a factor this amplifies this relationship. This symposium will offer an update of key concepts in this field by emphasizing recent research, allowing us to better understand and intervene.

TOS Obesity And Cancer Section Meeting

Presenting November 1 at 7:30-9:00pm

The Obesity and Cancer Section serves to focus the experts of TOS on the 2nd leading cause of death in the US Cancer. Junior investigators were invited by TOS Obesity and Cancer section to submit a one-page letter of intent in response to the Susan G. Komen® Breast Cancer Challenge.

Applications were welcomed across the translational continuum, from genes to geography. Semi-finalists will present their projects for ten minutes each at the Obesity and Cancer section meeting to determine the first and second prize winners.

The topics of the semi-finalist proposals include answers to the following Bold Goal oriented questions:

  • Is obesity linked to patients developing specific types of breast cancer?
  • Are obese breast cancer patients more at risk to develop recurrences?
  • How does obesity affect the efficacy of treatments for metastatic breast cancer?
  • Could diet or exercise interventions (or both) favorably impact breast cancer patients with primary or recurrent cancers?
  • Does diet or exercise interventions (or both) resulting in weight loss diminish risks of developing breast cancer, recurrences or metastatic breast cancer?
  • What mechanisms involved in breast cancer recurrences are impacted by obesity, diet, or exercise?

Two winners will be selected for a first prize of $7,500 and a second prize of $2,500.

The Obesity and Cancer Supplement of the journal Obesity will be available to attendees.

Obesity and Cancer: Presidential Symposium Co-Sponsored By Both The ASMBS And TOS Presidents

Speakers: Stephen Hursting, PhD, MPH, RD, Jennifer Ligibel, MD, John Morton, MD, MPH, FACS, Rachel Ballard, MD, MPH, Bruce M. Wolfe, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Presenting November 2 at 8:00-10:15am

This symposium will discuss the following topics: Obesity as a Cancer Risk Factor, Cancer Prevention through Weight Loss and When and How to Initiate Weight Loss in the Cancer Patient.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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