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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Oct;1831(10):1499-508. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2013.02.008. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

Mechanisms linking obesity and cancer.

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Program in Metabolic Biology, Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, 127 Morgan Hall, Berkeley, CA 94710, USA.


The incidence of obesity in US adults has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. Many comorbidities associated with obesity have been well-established such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. However, more recently an epidemiological relationship between obesity and the prevalence of a variety of cancers has also been uncovered. The shift of the paradigm surrounding white adipose tissue function from purely an energy storage tissue, to one that has both endocrine and metabolic relevance, has led to several mechanisms implicated in how obesity drives cancer prevalence and cancer deaths. Currently, there are four categories into which these mechanisms fall - increased lipids and lipid signaling, inflammatory responses, insulin resistance, and adipokines. In this review, we examine each of these categories and the mechanisms through which they drive cancer pathogenesis. Understanding the relationship(s) between obesity and cancer and especially the nodal points of control in these cascades will be essential in developing effective therapeutics or interventions for combating this deadly combination. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Lipid Metabolism in Cancer.


Cancer; Fatty acid; Inflammation; Lipid signaling; Metabolism; Obesity

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