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Annu Rev Med. 2010;61:301-16. doi: 10.1146/annurev.med.080708.082713.

Biological mechanisms linking obesity and cancer risk: new perspectives.

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  • 1Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK.

Abstract

Body mass index, as an approximation of body adiposity, is associated with increased risk of several common and less common malignancies in a sex- and site-specific manner. These findings implicate sex- and cancer site-specific biological mechanisms underpinning these associations, and it is unlikely that there is a "one system fits all" mechanism. Three main candidate systems have been proposed-insulin and the insulin-like growth factor-I axis, sex steroids, and adipokines-but there are shortfalls to these hypotheses. In this review, three novel candidate mechanisms are proposed: obesity-induced hypoxia, shared genetic susceptibility, and migrating adipose stromal cells. While public health policies aimed at curbing the underlying causes of the obesity epidemic are being implemented, there is a parallel need to better understand the biological processes linking obesity and cancer as a prerequisite to the development of new approaches to prevention and treatment.

PMID:
19824817
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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