Obesity continues to be a major global problem. Various cancers are related to obesity and proper understanding of their aetiology, especially their molecular tumour biology is important for early diagnosis and better treatment. Genes play an important role in the development of obesity. Few genes such as leptin, leptin receptor encoded by the db (diabetes), pro-opiomelanocortin, AgRP and NPY and melanocortin-4 receptors and insulin-induced gene 2 were linked to obesity. MicroRNAs control gene expression via mRNA degradation and protein translation inhibition and influence cell differentiation, cell growth and cell death. Overexpression of miR-143 inhibits tumour growth by suppressing B cell lymphoma 2, extracellular signal-regulated kinase-5 activities and KRAS oncogene. Cancers of the breast, uterus, renal, thyroid and liver are also related to obesity. Any disturbance in the production of sex hormones and insulin, leads to distortion in the balance between cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. The possible mechanism linking obesity to cancer involves alteration in the level of adipokines and sex hormones. These mediators act as biomarkers for cancer progression and act as targets for cancer therapy and prevention. Interestingly, many anti-cancerous drugs are also beneficial in treating obesity and vice versa. We also reviewed the possible link in the mechanism of few drugs which act both on cancer and obesity. The present review may be important for molecular biologists, oncologists and clinicians treating cancers and also pave the way for better therapeutic options.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.