Obesity: A Growing Risk and a Rare Opportunity

Obesity: A Growing Risk and a Rare Opportunity

Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO

May 17, 2014
With the approach of our 50th Annual Meeting, ASCO is also formally launching an entirely new initiative aimed at the growing problem of obesity. This effort, funded through our Conquer Cancer Foundation, is meant to help us all confront obesity which is a risk for many common cancers and also a poor prognostic factor. With careful consideration over the past two years and hard work by ASCO’s staff and volunteers, this effort is meant to accomplish several goals:

1. Highlight the associations since both the lay public and many in the professional community are unaware of the risks.

2. Fuel research leading to more effective interventions by better understanding why obesity can increase the risks for some malignancies.

3. Provide tools to clinicians and patients trying to address this issue in the context of malignancy. "Obesity and Cancer: A Guide for Oncology Providers” is available with additional resources at asco.org/obesity and a patient guide and additional information for patients is available at cancer.net/obesity.

We see this effort as parallel to those that have helped to control and reduce the impact of tobacco, but we recognize that there are significant differences in these two problems. We are planning to partner with other professional organizations, some of which have decades of experience in this area, and we are reaching out to educate legislators, investigators, public health officials, and other influencers to help focus public attention on this issue.

Today, obesity is an overlooked threat to our nation’s health, and it is looming as a long-term challenge in many domains. Already, it is estimated that it will replace tobacco as our number one modifiable risk factor for cancer, and our goal is to address this now so that we don’t lose the ground we are gaining in so many other areas of cancer care.

I hope you will take some time to look at our resources and follow our efforts as they evolve. Please let us know of additional tools and approaches that could be helpful. We have a rare and novel opportunity to address this problem using the tools of modern medicine, enlightened public policy, and focused communication, and we have both the duty and the resources to make a difference. Thanks for helping.


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Mark Allen O'Rourke, MD

May, 28 2014 8:01 PM

Excellent monograph.  Worthy of wide distribution.  I especially liked the challenges to weight loss articulated by patients and sample provider responses (Table 4.1).

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