Obesity, metabolic dysfunction and cancer: Molecular epidemiologic approaches


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Marc Gunter1
1International Agency for Research on Cancer

Abstract

Background

Obesity is an established positive risk factor for a growing number of malignancies including cancers of the colorectum, gallbladder, pancreas, endometrium, postmenopausal breast, thyroid, hepatocellular and renal cell carcinoma, and oesophageal adenocarcinoma. Obesity is associated with significant metabolic and endocrine abnormalities including alterations in sex hormone metabolism, insulin signalling, and adipokines/inflammatory pathways. All three mechanisms influence the balance between cell proliferation and apoptosis and have been linked to cancer development in both experimental and observational studies. However, it is likely that other, hitherto unrecognised, molecular pathways may mediate the adiposity-cancer association. In this presentation I will discuss new molecular epidemiologic approaches to understanding the mechanisms linking obesity, metabolic dysfunction and cancer, highlighting ongoing work that exploits metabolomics, genomic and epigenetic tools within the framework of prospective cohort studies, randomized controlled trials and clinical case series.