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March 4 is World Obesity Day- when we try to bring awareness to obesity as an epidemic disease. Although 4 our of 10 Americans are medically obese, this common state should never be normalized. We know that obesity is a risk factor for lots of diseases including diabetes and heart disease. But here are some diseases that you might not realize are also related to obesity!

1. Cancer:

  • We don't usually link cancer to obesity, but they are absolutely related. Obesity is a direct cause of over a dozen malignancies, such as breast, prostate, uterine and colon cancer. Here is the full list of cancers caused by obesity per the CDC website.

  • The Mechanism behind how obesity causes cancer is very complex, but it involves changes in the body from extra fat tissue that cause inflammation and hormone disruption, which can lead to increased levels of certain hormones like estrogen, testosterone, insulin and insulin-like growth factor. Too high levels of these hormones can feed certain cancers.

2. Depression and anxiety:

  • Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are more prevalent in people with obesity. But why? The social stigma of obesity can be overwhelming, and there are also theories that the inflammation in the body caused by obesity can also contribute to inflammation in the brain and gut, which in turn can affect our mood hormones and impact our mental health.

3. Sleep Apnea:

  • Do you have obesity and are also having sleep issues? Do you snore? This could indicate you've developed sleep apnea, which is a condition where breathing stops abnormally multiple times during the night while sleeping. 40% of people with obesity also have sleep apnea. Excess weight can cause fat deposits in the neck, which can in turn block the airway when sleeping. The good news is that improvement in weight can reverse sleep apnea.

4. Arthritis:

  • Many people can attest that when they gain too much weight, their joints suffer. One pound of excess weight can add the equivalent of 5 pounds of pressure on the joints, especially knees, hips, and lower spine. Over time, irreversible damage to the joints may occur and chronic pain can set in.

The reassuring news about all these medical conditions, is that if obesity is treated early and aggressively, many diseases can be improved or totally treated. We know that obesity is a complex disease that is difficult to treat, but lifestyle modifications and/ or anti-obesity medications can go a long way. Suffering from obesity? Talk to your doctor about treatment options today!

Stay Well

Dr. Kim

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