New York: Obese people face greater risk of developing colon cancer, the third most common form of cancer, say scientists.
The fat cells in the body of obese people produce leptin - a hormone that makes colon cancer cells grow faster. The more fat cells a person has, the more leptin will be in their bloodstream, says a study published in the British Journal of Surgery.
A colon cancer patient suffers from cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix.
Researchers at University of California, San Diego, wanted to find further evidence of the link by studying what happened to human cancer cells exposed to the hormone.
They added the hormone to different varieties of cancer cells and found that the growth was stimulated in all the cell lines, reported the online edition of BBC news.
"These results may explain why obesity increases a person's risk of colon cancer," said lead researcher Kim Barrett.
"The fact we have shown how leptin stimulates these cells means that drug companies may be in a better position to develop new treatments against the disease."