Obesity and cancer (prostate cancer included): new ASCO policy statement

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has just published its first-ever policy statement on obesity and cancer, and is warning that “obesity could soon become the leading cause of cancer” here in America.

Specifically the statement, authored by Ligibel et al., includes, as a key finding, that:

Obese men seem to be at increased risk of developing biologically aggressive prostate cancers and also are more likely to have advanced disease at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis.

ASCO’s immediate past president, Clifford Hudis, MD, is quoted as stating that:

With nearly three in four Americans obese or overweight, obesity has become a tremendous public health challenge that also impacts cancer care and prevention today.

The text of the statement also notes that:

  • Obesity will soon overtake tobacco use as a risk for cancer.
  • By 2030, as many as half a million cancers in the U.S. will be related to obesity.

ASCO goes on to commit to the following four priorities:

  • Increasing education and awareness of the evidence linking obesity and cancer
  • Providing tools and resources to help oncology providers address obesity with their patients
  • Building and fostering a robust research agenda to better understand the pathophysiology of energy balance alterations, evaluate the impact of behavior change on cancer outcomes, and determine the best methods to help cancer survivors make effective and useful changes in lifestyle behaviors
  • Advocating for policy and systems change to address societal factors contributing to obesity and improve access to weight management services for patients with cancer

However, The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink would observe that every one of us should understand that there are things that we ourselves can do to counter the serious consequences of obesity in our society today (which go well beyond risk for cancer):

  • We should set a positive example for others by losing our own excess weight if that is possible, maintaining a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
  • We should teach our children and grandchildren about the consequences of obesity and encourage them to have a healthy lifestyle too.
  • We should make sure that we contribute to a social culture that discourages excess body mass in a non-judgmental manner, based simply on the known association of obesity to significant health problems from cardiovascular disease and diabetes to cancer.
  • Specifically, with regard to prostate cancer, we should educate other men that obesity increases their risk for a diagnosis of  biologically aggressive disease.

One Response

  1. Another great post!

    Re: the obese men, a further point. Most obese men have low (lower) testosterone levels, and that excess fat actually produces excessive levels of estrogen.

    Both are bad as regards cancer, especially prostate cancer.

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