Dr. Hudis on the Link Between Obesity and Cancer

March 3, 2015
Clifford A. Hudis, MD

Clifford A. Hudis, MD, chief, Breast Cancer Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, professor of medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, discusses the link between obesity and cancer.

Clifford A. Hudis, MD, chief, Breast Cancer Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, professor of medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, discusses the link between obesity and cancer.

Hudis says the problem of obesity in the United States is a relatively new issue and has profound medical consequences. Many people know that obesity can lead to arthritis, diabetes and hypertension, but obesity can also cause pancreatitis, gallstones, reflux esophagitis and other ailments including cancer, Hudis says.

Researchers have known that obesity was associated with some specific cancers, such as uterine cancer and breast cancer but they are now discovering that obesity is also associated with colon cancer and high-grade prostate cancers.

Hudis says the reason obesity is associated with cancer is the biochemical reactions that take place when a patient is obese. There are inflammatory cellular structures within the fat tissue that produce inflammatory mediators, which activate aromatase. The activation of aromatase is associate with both breast cancer and endometrial cancer, Hudis says.​