Obesity and components of energy imbalance, that is, excessive energy intake and suboptimal levels of physical activity, are established risk factors for cancer incidence. Accumulating evidence suggests that these factors also may be important after the diagnosis of cancer and influence the course of disease, as well as overall health, well-being, and survival. Lifestyle and medical interventions that effectively modify these factors could potentially be harnessed as a means of cancer control. However, for such interventions to be maximally effective and sustainable, broad sweeping scientific discoveries ranging from molecular and cellular advances, to developments in delivering interventions on both individual and societal levels are needed. This review summarizes key discussion topics that were addressed in a recent Institute of Medicine Workshop entitled, "The Role of Obesity in Cancer Survival and Recurrence"; discussions included (i) mechanisms associated with obesity and energy balance that influence cancer progression; (ii) complexities of studying and interpreting energy balance in relation to cancer recurrence and survival; (iii) associations between obesity and cancer risk, recurrence, and mortality; (iv) interventions that promote weight loss, increased physical activity, and negative energy balance as a means of cancer control; and (v) future directions.
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