Translating Mechanism-Based Strategies to Break the Obesity-Cancer Link: A Narrative Review

Laura A Smith, Ciara H O'Flanagan, Laura W Bowers, Emma H Allott, Stephen D Hursting

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
652 Downloads (Pure)


Prevalence of obesity, an established risk factor for many cancers, has increased dramatically over the past 50 years in the United States and across the globe. Relative to normoweight cancer patients, obese cancer patients often have poorer prognoses, resistance to chemotherapies, and are more likely to develop distant metastases. Recent progress on elucidating the mechanisms underlying the obesity-cancer connection suggests that obesity exerts pleomorphic effects on pathways related to tumor development and progression and, thus, there are multiple opportunities for primary prevention and treatment of obesity-related cancers. Obesity-associated alterations, including systemic metabolism, adipose inflammation, growth factor signaling, and angiogenesis, are emerging as primary drivers of obesity-associated cancer development and progression. These obesity-associated host factors interact with the intrinsic molecular characteristics of cancer cells, facilitating several of the hallmarks of cancer. Each is considered in the context of potential preventive and therapeutic strategies to reduce the burden of obesity-related cancers. In addition, this review focuses on emerging mechanisms behind the obesity-cancer link, as well as relevant dietary interventions, including calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, low-fat diet, and ketogenic diet, that are being implemented in preclinical and clinical trials, with the ultimate goal of reducing incidence and progression of obesity-related cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652-667
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number4
Early online date01 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Translating Mechanism-Based Strategies to Break the Obesity-Cancer Link: A Narrative Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this