Obesity is a major health problem arising out of excessive overeating with less outcome in terms of physical activity. Its prevalence has dramatically increased in the last few decades. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) equal to or higher than 30 kg/m2 resulting in a number of medical disorders, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and the more severe non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). It has become a universal problem with increasing prevalence in both adults and children in the 21st century, even now in developing countries where enough calories are not available to be stored within the body with people relying more on self sufficiency than on machines. Extensive epidemiological studies reveal a strong link between obesity and development and progression of various types of cancers. The connection between obesity and liver cancer is particularly strong, invasive and characterized by more progressed form of fatty liver inflammation, believed to cause fibrosis and cirrhosis. It is a known liver cancer risk factor contributing substantially to overall hepatocellular carcinoma due to it’s much higher prevalence .
The marked increase in the worldwide incidence of obesity particularly in children has been noted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is working on it through collaborative research involvements through regional & combined research studies to mitigate this progressively spreading epidemic. Obesity has been found to be involved as a major risk factor in several common types of cancers of which pancreatic and liver cancer being most lethal among all showing the highest increase, with 5 years survival rate of 4–8%. The connection between obesity and cancer is likely to be mediated, in part, by a state of chronic low-grade inflammation in the involved tissues. Liver inflammation has been shown to be associated with obesity-induced NAFLD, NASH, fibrosis and cirrhosis, resulting in elevated production of various cytokines and adipokines, which have been implicated in hepatocarcinogenesis.
The steady increase in BMI on obesity has become a worldwide pandemic and is currently estimated to cause more than 90,000 cancer-related deaths per year in the US alone & combined lakhs of deaths world over. The incidence of obesity in both adults and children during the past three decades has increased drastically, also in other parts of the world, including developing countries such as China and India. Obesity has been shown to be an independent risk factor for some malignancies including breast cancer, endometrial cancer, colon cancer, renal cell carcinoma, esophageal adenocarcinoma, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and HCC. Furthermore, obesity is associated with poor prognosis of breast cancer and colon cancer and is believed that there is a need of generating combined therapeutic interventions to cope up with this poor prognostic approach in obesity induced comorbidities.
Obesity has been implicated in the genesis of metabolic syndromes including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and a spectrum of non-cancerous liver diseases. On the other hand, some “metabolic benign obesity” with only abdominal adiposity and without insulin resistance does not appear to play a determining role in steatohepatitis, suggesting that the obesity-induced metabolic disorder may be a major cause of fatty liver. Indeed, NAFLD is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus and dyslipidemia. Accumulation of fat, because of excess caloric intake, genetic factors or other diseases, can result in liver dysfunction as the liver synthesizes more triglycerides but fails to export them.
Speaking all above factors regarding obesity and it’s ill effects particularly in the development of Liver cancer in a single genesis, it is a clear scientific evidence of how obesity contributes in the emergence of multitude of heath related issues with also interfering in the treatment prognosis of other diseases developing irrespective of obesity induced disorders. Liver being one of the important & among vital organs of body cannot replenish itself from such veracity of illnesses and also looses those necessary functions that it caters to, in order to keep the general health of body in check. It is recommended to reduce excessive calorie intake by persons who have a body mass index (BMI) equal to or higher than 30 kg/m2, with relying more on self works than on automations.
Author is Master’s in Biotechnology and currently Research fellow working at CSIR, Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu (J&K). He has also qualified for University level Gold Medal of Excellence & DST INSPIRE Fellowship for carrying out doctoral studies.