Purpose of review: This article reviews the impact the obese state has on malignancy through inflammation and immune dysregulation using recent excerpts from the medical literature.
Recent findings: The obese state creates a proinflammatory endocrinologic milieu altering cellular signaling between adipocytes, immunologic cells, and epithelial cells, leading to the over-activation of adipose tissue macrophages and the upregulation of compounds associated with carcinogenesis. Obesity correlates with a deficiency in numerous immunologic cells, including dendritic cells, natural killer cells, and T cells. In part, this can be attributed to a recent finding of leptin receptor expression on these immune cells and the upregulation of leptin signaling in the obese state. A number of clinical trials have demonstrated the feasibility of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet as an adjuvant treatment for cancer, and current trials are investigating the impact of this intervention on disease outcomes. In preclinical trials, a ketogenic diet has been shown to impede tumor growth in a variety of cancers through anti-angiogenic, anti-inflammatory, and proapoptotic mechanisms.
Summary: Obesity is becoming more prevalent and its link to cancer is clearly established providing a rationale for the implementation of dietary interventions as an adjuvant therapeutic strategy for malignancy.