Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date

Spring 2022


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Biology, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Rebecca Adams

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Cancer is both an increasingly prevalent and multifaceted group of diseases that has persisted in society for centuries. Obesity is also an incredibly complex disease that persists as a top cause of mortality and health complications, especially in the United States. Obesity is strongly associated with the regular consumption of high-fat diets. Aside from its own health complications, obesity also acts as a risk factor for several cancers including colon cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths. This is largely thought to be due to the continuous, low-grade inflammation that often accompanies obesity which can change a body’s microenvironment and provide the ideal conditions for cancer development. However, the relationship between these two maladies is not directly understood, as obesity results in complex changes to the body and cancer results from complex physiological changes. The mechanisms of obesity that influence colon cancer are still being explored, and the links between the two are still being solidified. Currently, several physiological processes are known to connect obesity and high fat diets to colon cancer: endocrine signaling, angiogenesis, and immune signaling. Using these processes to understand how obesity and high levels of fat consumption alter normal body processes and increase the risk of developing cancer is an important avenue of cancer research to explore.

This literature review offers a concise summary of these mechanisms and their alteration due to the presence of obesity, as well as describing a background for the history of cancer research. The aim of this paper is to explore colon cancer and its link to obesity and high fat diets to better understand their correlations. From this analysis, we discuss possible preventative measures that can be discovered and tested, all in an attempt to decrease colon cancer in society.