Cancer Prevention and the Hidden Risk of Obesity

Obesity has become one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35% of American adults are considered obese today, and rates of this disease among children are also increasing. VIVUS (NASDAQ: VVUS  )  Qsymia, an obesity drug that became available to physicians last September, and Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA  )  Belviq, another FDA-approved drug for the treatment of obesity that should be launched in the coming weeks, are two new medications that can be prescribed in the fight against this disease. Both drugs are indicated for patients who are either obese, or overweight (i.e., BMI more than 27) and also suffer from hypertension, diabetes, or high levels of cholesterol in their bloodstream.

This may not be a surprise, since obesity is commonly associated with heart problems and cholesterol, but did you know that obesity can also lead to specific types of cancer? The World Cancer Research Fund states that overweight or obese patients can be at increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, kidney, and breast cancers. Whether obesity-fighting drugs will be able to play a direct role in mitigating this risk going forward is debatable, but preventing and treating this disease in the future is one component in the fight against cancer.

Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo, author of the book A World Without Cancer, discusses this topic with Motley Fool analyst Max Macaluso in the following video. A transcript is provided below the video.

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Max Macaluso: Let's talk a little bit about obesity. I think a lot of people might not realize that obesity is linked to certain types of cancers.

Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo: Yes. Obesity is linked to quite a few cancers. Scientists have pointed to the fact that breast cancer and colon cancer are definitely linked to obesity, but there are many other cancers that are as well.

What do we want to do? How do we avoid this epidemic? Do you realize, in the past 30 years the rate of obesity among children has tripled, and it has doubled for adults? Everyone agrees we have an epidemic. What do we do about it?

It's all about education, isn't it? We have to start with our very youngest children, teaching them what is a healthful diet. It's not a bag of chips at every meal. It's not a can of soda at every meal. If children don't have the tools, the strategies, how can we expect them to eat healthfully?

Often times, what children learn in school in terms of vegetables and a plant-based diet, they will take home and they will be the teachers for their parents and caregivers. Isn't that a wonderful thing?

I really feel education is the key here. I know the First Lady has made great strides in helping to get people moving, especially children, and help them to eat healthfully. I think we need more partnership from industry and a lot of the stakeholders here. We all need to work hard around this.

Macaluso: Once again, focused more on prevention than treatments.

Cuomo: Prevention is so important. Prevention is much more cost effective. In 2010, we spent $125 billion on cancer care. That's 5% of all health care expenditure and 10% of all Medicare expenditure. It's unsustainable.

At this point in time, we spend 18% of our gross domestic product on health care itself. We all agree it's unsustainable. How are we going to change it? This is one way; by focusing on prevention.

To watch the full interview with Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo, click here.

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  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2013, at 10:14 AM, RSRdriver wrote:

    If 90% of the planet were obese it still would not effect the outcome of a drug that is a total failure (Belviq!)

    On top of the recent EU failures, it is still likely the DEA will be applying either stringent label restrictions and or a sch.3!

    The efficacy is still a joke and as if that is not enough, the amateurs that run this non profit company put a ridiculous price on it! MD's and insurance companies will avoid it.

    ARNA is truly a sub $5 stock at best.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2013, at 10:44 AM, biogemfinder wrote:

    RS dribble says ARNA is a sub 5 dollar stock. Coming from him its a huge upgrade because he used to say its a sub 4 dollar or sub 3 dollar stock!

    This guy is such a joke. He is long VVUA and short arena..he said so many times.

    You saying useless does not mean squatt. FDA says its effective and safe (remember no REMS)? Once DEA scheduling is complete you nwill be nowhere to be seen for sure. The VVUS drug ..the one that you champion..well it may think is effective no one apparently wants to take becasue Drs already know about iut as generic and don't like the cleft plips and other horrible side effects. Thats why it is having hard time selling..

    You never answer the question why VVUS having 6-9 months advantagew hasn't dominated the market??

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2013, at 1:04 PM, gazoo99 wrote:

    Here's the best way to sum up VVUS:

    VIVUS Lifeless As Biotech Jumps, Expect Worse........

    By: Terri Stridsberg

    VIVUS (VVUS)has been a technical laggard lately, having shed close to 17% year-to-date. The biopharmaceutical firm has trailed the broader SPY ETF by close to 26 percentage points during the past two months. Over the past year, VIVUS shares are down 44.4%, compared to gains of 29.4% for the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB), and surge of 51.2% for the Market Vectors Biotech (BBH) ETF.

    A look at the charts shows the stock remains pinned beneath resistance at its 20-week moving average — a trendline not surmounted on a weekly closing basis since July 2012. Given this lackluster price action, as well as the upbeat sentiment surrounding the stock, now could be the window of opportunity for betting on VVUS to continue along its downward trajectory.

    From a fundamental perspective, VVUS gapped 12.2% lower on Feb. 26, after reporting a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss. The poorly received results were attributed to lackluster sales of the company’s obesity drug, Qsymia, as well as considerably higher operating expenses.

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