Help or hindrance: The obesity paradox in cancer treatment response

Type Article

Journal Article


F. O'Connell; J. O'Sullivan

Year of publication



Cancer Lett







Obesity is a rising epidemic, the influence of which on cancer development, progression as well as its impact on current standard of care cancer treatments is profound with many facets. Obesity is emerging as a modulating factor in many cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and combination therapies. It has been reported to diminish the efficacy of some treatments but has also been alluded to being protective in terms of reduced treatment toxicities, thus the evolution of the obesity paradox. The obese tumour microenvironment influences treatment response through modulation of a series of aspects, including altered adipocyte secretome, angiogenesis, hypoxia, fibrosis, free fatty acid uptake as well as a modulated immune landscape. However, the influence of these underlying mechanisms on cancer treatment response and the biological action of adipose tissue is still largely unknown. Elucidation of these facets may lead to the enhanced efficacy of current treatment options or the identification of novel methods to combat cancer in the obese tumour microenvironment.