Obesity causes cancer (Really? WTF, I mean, really?!?!)

CH writes:

My mother-in-law passed away 2 weeks ago. She was an amazing woman and will be missed immensely. I have been helping my father-in-law get some things sorted out relating to creditors. One of the hospitals requested a copy of her death certificate, which I hadn’t seen until yesterday. Here’s what it says:


Stage III C1 Mixed Mullerian Tumor of the Uterus [Onset: 4 months]

Due to (or as a consequence of): Morbid Obesity

Excuse me? So now obesity causes cancer? Does the media need to be alerted to get the word out that cancer is caused by being fat? We can completely eradicate cancer by putting everyone on a diet!

I am so disgusted by this. I feel like they (I’m not sure who “they” are, however) wanted to get in one more dig about her weight. I don’t see how that has ANYTHING to do with the cancer and complications from cancer surgery that ultimately led to her demise. It sickens me that an amazing person such as she was can be reduced to just another fat person who wouldn’t go on a diet.

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  1. I occasionally see things in the media that say fat increases cancer risk. I’m not sure how true that is. I suspect your mother did not get the best treatment because she was fat, so the fat is blamed instead of the poor treatment.

    I’m so sorry that was on her death certificate. Cancer is so complicated that suggesting one cause is ludicrous and cruel.


  2. To add to what Isstrout said, while fat is often pointed to as a risk factor, a risk factor is not a cause. It is just plain incorrect to say that her death was “caused” by her weight. Other risk factors include things like race, sex, age, and height, and we would rightly recognize that those aren’t really a “cause” of death. (Except maybe “old age” when doctors don’t find any particular cause.)

  3. I hate to go to the other side but higher fat content in a woman’s body causes more estrogen in our systems which may cause ovarian and uterine cancer. I came to know this because of an animal problem (cubby doe bunny), then I looked it up for humans. However if she had been a smoker they probably would have said it was due to that.

    On the other hand doctors always seem to think an overweight woman can’t have a normal reproductive system. I just turned 53 and my periods have finally started to get irregular. Yeah menopause. My periods have right on target for most of my life. Never have I gone to a doctor for a reproductive issue, because I haven’t had any. I do consider myself lucky (although I would have like to have stopped my period ten years ago!).

    • Jackie:
      If you’re responding to me, the reason I say that it is a risk factor vs. a cause is because it isn’t a direct relationship. It increases the risk, but you can have multiple risk factors and still not get a particular kind of cancer, or have one or none and still get it. Most fat women do not get uterine cancer. So it’s not a causal relationship in the strict sense.

  4. I’m a bit late to the discussion, but I wanted to suggest that crap like this is probably used to inflate the “death by obesity” numbers. Pretty much anything that kills a fat person is listed as “secondary cause, obesity.” Hit by a bus? Well, if you weren’t so fat, you could have gotten out of its way!

  5. I know it is too late for this person, but I do want others to know that you CAN challenge the “cause of death” a doctor puts on a death certificate. Unless your mother in law was above a BMI of around 35, she was not morbidly obese. And in any case, there is no way it could be a contributing cause of death for some one who passed from cancer, not unless she had some medical emergency unrelated to the cancer. I would certainly have challenged that on the death certificate. To the OP, I am so sorry for your loss and the pain an unfeeling jerk inflicted on you.


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