Diabesity is as deadly as smoking

There are two points you may have noticed I come back to particularly often:

1) Sugar kills
2) If you want to be healthy, you can’t be overweight.

So here is a sobering statistic that shouldn’t surprise you: Nearly six per cent of all cancers — that’s upwards of 800,000 cases worldwide — were caused by diabetes and obesity in 2012.

Of those, obesity was responsible for twice as many cases. But that’s still a hefty role that diabetes plays in cancer development. One that’s only been recently established, at that.

That said, we already know that obesity rockets your risk of more than a dozen types of cancer. (Here’s a short list of cancers that are directly attributable to being fat: colorectal, gallbladder, pancreatic, liver, postmenopausal breast, endometrial, kidney, ovarian, stomach cardia, and thyroid cancer, oesophageal adenocarcinoma, and multiple myeloma.)

Seeing as how diabetes and obesity go practically hand in hand, I can’t imagine why anyone would be shocked by this latest finding. Though the numbers themselves are pretty staggering, when you think about it.

That’s 544,300 cases of cancer caused by obesity in 2012. And 280,100 cases caused by diabetes. (To drive the point home further, that covers one in four cases of liver and oesophageal cancers. And more than a third of all cases of endometrial cancer.)

Cancers attributed to diabetes or high Body Mass Index (BMI) were nearly twice as likely to occur in women. But in men, liver cancer and colorectal cancer were most commonly caused by either factor — accounting for roughly 43 per cent and 21 per cent of these cases, respectively.

Overweight or diabetic women, on the other hand, were most likely to end up with breast cancer or endometrial cancer. (These diagnoses accounted for roughly 30 per cent and 25 per cent of the new cancer cases in this study.)

As if that weren’t bad enough, these numbers may in fact be underestimating the problem. Research suggests that it may take as long as a decade for obesity and diabetes to really catch up with your body — and there’s evidence that a high BMI in early adulthood can influence your cancer risk many, many years down the road.

Ultimately, this paints a grim picture: If global rates of both diabetes and obesity continue on the same trajectory, cancers tied to these conditions look set to spike by 20 to 30 per cent by 2035.

If that doesn’t get people to start taking this diabesity epidemic seriously, I don’t know what will. Because let’s face it: The time to intervene was yesterday. If we don’t double down on our efforts to reverse this crisis, more people are going to die — it’s just that simple.

There’s not a doctor practicing that wouldn’t warn their patients to quit smoking. Why it has taken them so long to realize that diabesity is just as lethal is beyond me.

But let’s not forget who we’re talking about here. Mainstream physicians bury their heads in the sand all the time. What else would we expect? I’d be more surprised if they were actually doing something to raise awareness.

Clearly, someone needs to be getting the word out. Because obesity now ranks as the second leading cause of cancer. And yet, one in three people don’t even recognize it as a risk.

The only good news here is that obesity-related cancer is easy to prevent. You just need a plan to take control of your health that actually works…

To your good health,

Fred Pescatore, M.D.
Contributing Editor