What is the mechanism whereby obesity and cancer are linked? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Women who are obese are 18% more likely to have a breast cancer recurrence than women of normal weight, a recent study reports. While obesity is well known to increase inflammation in the body, William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says the more direct path to cancer is most likely through the action of the hormone insulin.

Some of it may be a little bit related to inflammatory states and the like. I think the more common mechanism when you are trying to take a load of sugar and trying to control that, which you do with insulin, as you get overweight and obese it takes more and more insulin to control that sugar and the problem is that insulin and the insulin like growth factors are growth factors for cancer cells.   :24

Insulin is the hormone the body uses to remove sugar from the bloodstream so it can be used as an energy source or store it for later needs, and its cousins are the insulin like growth factors, involved in normal regulation of bones and tissues. Nelson notes that cancer cells respond to them with increased growth. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.