Home and Community Safety & Health

Being overweight or obese raises your risk for 13 types of cancer, study shows

Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Atlanta – Obese or overweight people have an increased risk for 13 types of cancer, according to a recent study by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.

The 13 types of cancer most associated with obesity – meningioma; multiple myeloma; adenocarcinoma of the esophagus; and cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus and colorectal – accounted for 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014, according to the report. Obesity can cause inflammation and increased levels of certain hormones, which may lead to cancer.

Although the rate of new cancer diagnoses has been decreasing since the 1990s, the research shows that the increase in obesity-related cancer diagnoses is slowing the overall decline. While the rate of non-obesity-related cancers dropped between 2005 and 2014, the rate for obesity-related cancers, not including colorectal cancer, rose 7 percent.

Of the 630,000 people diagnosed with overweight- and obesity-related cancers in 2014, two-thirds were between the ages of 50 and 74.

“A majority of American adults weigh more than recommended – and being overweight or obese puts people at higher risk for a number of cancers – so these findings are a cause for concern,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said. “By getting to and keeping a healthy weight, we all can play a role in cancer prevention.”

Much of what can be done to limit exposure to the risk of obesity-related cancer is being done through anti-obesity programs.

“As an oncologist, when people ask me if there’s a cure for cancer, I say, ‘Yes, good health is the best prescription for preventing chronic diseases, including cancer,’” Lisa C. Richardson, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said in a press release. “What that means to health care providers like me is helping people to have the information they need to make healthy choices where they live, work, learn and play.”

The report was published in the October edition of Vital Signs.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)