Obesity Cancer Endometrial

One of the most common cancers to affect women in industrialized nations, endometrial cancer begins in the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. Several types of cancer, including endometrial cancer, are among the unfortunate effects of obesity.

Obesity and Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors

According to the American Cancer Society (2009), an overweight woman’s risk of endometrial cancer is double the risk for women of healthy weight. This risk increases for obese women, who are three times more likely to develop this cancer.

Endometrial Cancer and Obesity

A high-fat diet appears to raise the risk of endometrial cancer. Researchers are unclear whether the risk of endometrial cancer increases because of the diet’s high fat content, or because a high fat diet often results in weight gain.

Diabetes is one of the more common obesity health issues, which also increases the risk of endometrial cancer. Diabetic women are four times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than non-diabetic women, as reported by the American Cancer Society (2009).

Other endometrial cancer risk factors include:

  • Being older than 45
  • Early menarche or late menopause
  • Estrogen therapy
  • History of breast cancer with tamoxifen treatment
  • Irregular ovulation
  • Never getting pregnant (pregnancy lowers the risk of endometrial cancer)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Personal history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Effects of Obesity: Increased Endometrial Cancer Risks

Exactly why obesity increases the risk of endometrial cancer has yet to be determined. One theory notes that estrogen levels are linked to this cancer. Risk factors like oral contraceptive use, ovarian tumors and estrogen therapy all involve estrogen levels.

In addition, fat cells produce estrogen. Although the amount of estrogen produced by fat cells pales in comparison to the amount produced by the ovaries, it seems to be enough to influence a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer.

Reducing Endometrial Cancer Risk

If excess weight increases the risk of endometrial cancer, weight loss should logically protect against the disease. Whether or not losing weight lowers the risk of cancer has yet to be proven clinically.

Medical experts already know that losing just 10 percent of excess weight yields many health benefits, including a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. Since diabetes quadruples a woman’s risk of cancer of the endometrium lining, lowering the risk of diabetes should also lower that of endometrial cancer.

Doctors suggest physical activity as a preventive measure for endometrial cancer. Like weight loss, exercise isn’t a proven deterrent to cancer. Combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, however, weight loss may improve quality of life. The possibility that weight loss and exercise reduce endometrial cancer is yet another reason to eat healthfully and stay active.


American Cancer Society. (2009). What are the risk factors for endometrial cancer? Retrieved June 15, 2010, from http://www.cancer.org/docroot/cri/content/cri_2_4_2x_what_are_the_risk_factors_for_endometrial_cancer.asp.

Kaaks, R., Lukanova, A.,