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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 9, 2015

A weighty problem: metabolic perturbations and the obesity-cancer link

  • Ciara H. O’Flanagan , Laura W. Bowers and Stephen D. Hursting EMAIL logo


Obesity is an established risk factor for several cancers, including breast, colon, endometrial, ovarian, gastric, pancreatic and liver, and is increasingly a public health concern. Obese cancer patients often have poorer prognoses, reduced response to standard treatments, and are more likely to develop metastatic disease than normo-weight individuals. Many of the pathologic features of obesity promote tumor growth, such as metabolic perturbations, hormonal and growth factor imbalances, and chronic inflammation. Although obesity exacerbates tumor development, the interconnected relationship between the two conditions presents opportunities for new treatment approaches, some of which may be more successful in obese cohorts. Here, we discuss the many ways in which excess adiposity can impact cancer development and progression and address potential preventive and therapeutic strategies to reduce the burden of obesity-related cancers.

Corresponding author: Dr. Stephen D. Hursting, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, McGavran-Greenberg Hall, 135 Dauer Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA, E-mail:


C.O.F. is supported by an AICR postdoctoral fellowship (11A003). L.B. is currently supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (R25CA057726). This work was also funded by the Susan G. Komen Foundation (KG101039) and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (2014/2015).

Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Received: 2015-5-12
Accepted: 2015-6-5
Published Online: 2015-7-9
Published in Print: 2015-8-1

©2015 by De Gruyter

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