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  • Obesity leading to increased risk of Pancreatic Cancer

    Published on September 22, 2022

    Dr. Sanketh Kotne, Consultant Medical Oncologist, HCG Cancer Centre Vizag

    Obesity has seen a huge rise in the past decade across the globe. It is a term constantly comes across, and there are a multitude of health hazards attached to it that are directly related to mortality and morbidity. There is a growing understanding of how one’s body mass index affects their overall health and the chances of potential diseased especially pancreatic cancer that is highly fatal.

    Causes of Obesity

    Obesity is essentially a metabolic disorder that results in excess body fat deposits in the subcutaneous (under the skin) tissue. There are numerous variables that can lead to obesity, some of which could be:

    • Genetics
    • Physiological and environmental factors
    • Diet
    • Physical activity
    • Hormones
    • Medications like Insulin, Steroids, Oestrogen’s, and Antidepressants

    However, abdominal obesity is the main kind of obesity that is largely regarded as a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. The form of obesity that is most noticeable around the waist and is mostly brought down by dietary and exercise-related lifestyle decisions.

    The excessive consumption of meals high in sugar and simple carbohydrates is a key factor in the development of abdominal obesity.

    Increased risk of Pancreatic cancer

    While the precise causes of pancreatic cancer are yet unknown, doctors generally emphasise on the increased chances of pancreatic cancer due to obesity. Obese people are about 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

    • Due to the obvious link between a higher BMI, abdominal obesity, and the incidence of the illness, obesity is recognised as a risk factor for the development of pancreatic cancer.
    • The pancreatic hormone insulin is a key marker for the link between pancreatic cancer and obesity. Insulin resistance, which is brought on by the pancreas’ excessive production of the hormone have been clearly linked with the occurrence of pancreatic cancer.
    • Adipokines is a hormone produced by Fat cells, and this hormone can stimulate or inhibit cell growth. An excess of these hormones can stimulate cancer and its growth.

    Symptoms of Pancreatic cancer

    Pancreatic cancer is considered as a silent killer, and hence it is generally diagnosed at later stages which is what makes it fatal. Some of the signs and symptoms to watch out for, and if they are noticed it is best suggested to visit the nearest hospital for a diagnosis.

    • Jaundice
    • Belly or Back pain
    • Vomiting or Nausea
    • Bloating
    • Abdominal pain
    • Weight loss or loss of appetite

    While these are some of the potential signs or symptoms, it is important to note that the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily mean the individual could have Pancreatic cancer.

    Treatment for Obesity

    Healthier living choices are linked to the most important approach to battling obesity and reducing the severity of the risk factor. Several treatments can help curb this disease and help an individual to lead a healthier life.

    Dietary changes

    Working with a dietician who will be able to give the best guidance to achieve a healthier diet is most important. It is also highly critical to avoid any crash diets as they can have adverse health effects.

    Physical activity

    It is important to keep the body active through brisk walking, swimming, gardening, yoga and if an individual finds it difficult due to health or mobility issues it is best to get in touch with a health professional who will be able to give the correct guidance and exercise plan.

    Surgery

    The most advised course of action is surgery in situations when obesity has already contributed to the emergence of tumours and abnormal cell proliferation in the pancreatic area. Two of the most common surgeries performed are Gastic bypass and Gastric sleeve.

    Being overweight need not necessarily indicate the risk of developing cancer, but it is advisable to maintain a healthy weight and seek immediate medical attention in case of any unexplained and persisting symptoms.

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