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It’s a well-known fact that eating unhealthily, lack of exercise and general obesity leads to conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but new studies have found that being overweight can increase your risk of uterine or endometrial cancer threefold.
Unfortunately, very few members of the UK population understand that there is a link between obesity and the most commonly occurring cancer of the female reproductive system. It is the fourth most common cancer that affects women after breast cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the colon or rectum. In the UK, about 8,000 new cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed each year, and is more common in women who have been through the menopause, as most cases are in women over the age of 50. The condition also accounts for about 5% of all cancers diagnosed in women.
As obesity rates continue to significantly increase, the incidences of uterine cancer are rising too, and the correlation between the two has increasingly significant biological support. Obesity has consistently been associated with endometrial or uterine cancer, and many studies have shown that the risk of uterine cancer increases with rising weight gain in adulthood.
The bigger the amount of fat tissue, the more excess oestrogen is produced, and high levels of this female hormone have been linked to several gender-specific cancers. Obese people often have increased levels of insulin in their blood, which has been known to promote the development of certain tumours. Additionally, fat cells tend to produce hormones called adipokines that may stimulate or inhibit cell growth. For example, leptin, a hormone which is more abundant in obese people, seems to promote cell growth, whilst adiponectin, is a hormone which is more prevalent in people of an average weight, may have inhibitive effects to cell growth.