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Indians prone to cancer due to obesity, alcohol intake:Experts

Mumbai: Indians are more prone to oesophageal and other types of cancer due to obesity resulting from sedentary lifestyle and improper food habits as well as alcohol intake, according to medical experts.

Increase in the population affected by obesity, coupled with enhanced intake of alcohol by Indians is now posing a serious health hazard with people suffering from various forms of cancer, according to Dr M G Bhat, Bangalore-based doctor specialising in Bariatric surgery and Surgical Gastroenterology.

“Obesity is associated with increased risks of various types of cancers such as oesophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, breast (after menopause), endometrium (lining of the uterus), kidney, thyroid and gallbladder and many more possibly,” said Bhat, who is also associated with Manipal Hospital and Apollo Spectra Hospitals in Bangalore.

Dr Shashank Shah, noted Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgeon attached to Hinduja Healthcare here, said obesity is rising in India as a part of global epidemic, however, Indians being more obese, the abdominal obesity is more prevalent.

“Habits like tobacco and spices can add to reflux. The association of reflux and obesity is on rise in India and diagnosis is frequently done with endoscopy available. Hence, the treatment algorithm for reflux disease in obese people is changing to aggressive treatment of obesity since obesity is known to be the major contributory factor,” he said.

According to Bhat, “Fat tissues produce oestrogen, and its high levels enhance the risk of breast and endometrial cancers. Similarly, often increased insulin or insulin like growth factors present in higher levels in obese people may promote certain types of tumors such as Leptin.”

A recently concluded new global research by American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has established that an overweight person carries a great risk of developing the most common type of oesophageal cancer, while drinking alcohol increases the risk of the second major type of this cancer.
“We usually see patients of cancer and obesity more

frequently these days. As against cancer patients, cachexic (losing weight syndrone) patients are very weak. Reflux disease should be vigorously treated and also obese people should be treated aggressively because this increases the incidence of oesophagus cancer,” Shah added.

Medical experts feel that limiting alcoholic drinks, eating more fruits and vegetables, beans and other plant foods along with enhancing physical activity like walking breaks can help a person reduce the cancer risk in today’s environment.

“It is best to take preventive action rather than treatment of such serious ailments and there is no better alternative than maintaining a healthy lifestyle, proper choice of food and remaining physically fit in order to stay away from deadliest cancers,” he said.

The AICR research report also found strong evidence that consuming alcohol increases the risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma – 25 per cent increased risk per 10 grams of alcohol per day. This is equivalent to about a glass of beer or wine, the study said.

The report collated and reviewed the 46 scientific studies available on oesophageal cancer, diet, physical activity and weight in the first such review since 2007.

The research covered 15 million adults of whom 31,000 were diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.