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Obesity Hits Nonsmoking Esophageal Cancer Patients Hard




Obese people who undergo esophageal cancer surgery are more likely to die from a recurrence of the disease than normal weight patients. The finding, published in the December 1st issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, points to a dire outcome for obese people fighting the potentially fatal throat cancer.

Dr. Harry H. Yoon from the Mayo Clinic's Department of Medical Oncology led a team which examined how smoking and BMI affected esophageal cancer survival. The team studied 778 patients who underwent esophageal cancer surgery; they obtained BMI data as well as whether patients smoked or never smoked.


Obesity Lowers Esophageal Cancer Survival Rates

Yoon and his colleagues learned that obese esophageal cancer patients who never smoked were more likely to die or have a recurrence of the disease than normal weight patients who never smoked.


Why Does Obesity Hurt a Patient's Chances of Surviving Cancer?

Obesity is characterized by chronic inflammation. Lisa M. Coussens from the National Cancer Institute and Zena Warb from the University of California at San Francisco note that tumor cells often develop at sites of inflammation as part of the normal tissue repair process.

The constant damage to cells and regeneration of tissues - which is characteristic of inflammation - trigger the release of chemicals which eventually cause permanent changes to the DNA which can lead to cancer. 

This is one of the reasons why obesity is so dangerous. Obesity not only increases your chances of developing heart disease, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure, it can lead to cancer.


Is There Anything That Can Be Done?

The good news about Yoon's study is that it provides health care professionals with more information about the dangers that obesity pose to cancer survival, thus presenting an opportunity to design treatments specific to obese esophageal cancer patients.

It also serves as a warning to keep your weight under control. Since cancer and obesity are largely preventable, healthy nutrition and regular exercise may lower your risk of being stricken by these diseases.



1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14:1-4

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Article Sources 

Yoon, H., Lewis, M., Shi, Q., Khan, M., Cassivi, S., Diasio, R., & Sinicrope, F. (2011). Prognostic Impact of Body Mass Index Stratified by Smoking Status in Patients With Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Journal of Clinical Oncology, 29 (34), 4561-4567 DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2011.37.1260

Coussens, L.M. and Werb, Z. Inflammation and cancer. Nature. 2002 December 19; 420 (6917): 860 - 867.


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