Hormonal and metabolic disorders as links between obesity and cancer risk in men and women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Excessive adipose tissue, particularly in visceral location is a metabolically active endocrine organ inducing insulin resistance with associated dysmetabolism and hormonal imbalances. In obese patients, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinism also decrease androgen to estrogen transformation by a strong inhibition of aromatase activity in the endocrine organs and peripheral tissues. Decreased estrogen synthesis and defective estrogen receptor signaling induce further deterioration of cellular glucose uptake generating a vicious circle. The self-generating insulin resistance and the coexistence of hormonal disturbances mediate the development of obesity-associated serious illnesses, such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and malignancy. Severe obesity (but not overweight) is strongly associated with increased premature mortality an association primarily accounted for by coexisting diabetes and hypertension. Gender related similarities and differences in overall and site specific obesity related cancer incidence may provide revelation of associations among fatness, sexual hormone imbalance and cancer initiation. In women, obesity associated insulin resistance and defective estrogen synthesis seem to be strong cancer risk factors in both pre- and postmenopausal cases, especially for the female organs with high estrogen demand. In men, obesity associated insulin resistance, such as type 2 diabetes is high risk for cancers at several sites, but obesity associated diminished estrogen exposure has no conspicuous additive carcinogenic effect on the male organs. In northern regions, the higher incidence of obesity associated malignancies among women than men substantiates a harmful partnership in cancer initiation among obesity; darkness associated defective estrogen signaling and dysmetabolism. Recognition of the differences in the cancer risk of obese men and women may open new possibilities for the prevention and treatment of obesity related hormonal alterations and the associated malignancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-352
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer Research and Prevention
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Oncology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Hormonal and metabolic disorders as links between obesity and cancer risk in men and women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this