HEALTH SPOTLIGHT: CDC Reports That 40 Percent of Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity

By  //  October 5, 2017

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associated with increased risk for 13 types of cancer

The latest research reported by the CDC found that overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for 13 types of cancer.

According to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for 13 types of cancer, which account for about 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014.

Overall, the rate of new cancer cases has decreased since the 1990s, but increases in overweight- and obesity-related cancers are likely slowing this progress.

About 630,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with a cancer associated with overweight and obesity in 2014.

About 2 in 3 occurred in adults 50- to 74-years-old.

The rates of obesity-related cancers, not including colorectal cancer, increased by 7 percent between 2005 and 2014.

The rates of non-obesity related cancers declined during that time.

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D

“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,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D.

“By getting to and keeping a healthy weight, we all can play a role in cancer prevention.”

Over 60 Percent of Americans Overweight or Obese

In 2013-2014, about 2 out of 3 adults in the U.S. were overweight (defined as having a body mass index of 25-29.9 kg/m2) or had obesity (having a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 and higher).

The body mass index (BMI) is a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of the person’s height (in meters).

Many people are not aware that being overweight and having obesity are associated with some cancers.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified 13 cancers associated with overweight and obesity: meningioma, multiple myeloma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, and cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus, colon and rectum (colorectal).

Screening for colorectal cancer prevents new cases by finding abnormal growths in the colon and rectum before they turn into cancer.

55 Percent of Cancers in Women Associated with Overweight and Obesity

By reviewing and analyzing the United States Cancer Statistics’ cancer incidence data from 2005 to 2014, CDC and National Cancer Institute (NCI) researchers were able to determine trends for cancers associated with overweight and obesity.

Key findings regarding cancer types associated with overweight and obesity:

  • 55 percent of all cancers diagnosed in women and 24 percent of those diagnosed in men are associated with overweight and obesity.
  • Non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites had higher incidence rates compared with other racial and ethnic groups. Black males and American Indian/Alaska Native males had higher incidence rates than white males.
  • Cancers associated with overweight and obesity, excluding colorectal cancer, increased 7 percent between 2005-2014.  Colorectal cancer decreased 23 percent, due in large part to screening. Cancers not associated with overweight and obesity decreased 13 percent.
  • Cancers associated with overweight and obesity, excluding colorectal cancer, increased among adults younger than age 75.

“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,’” said Lisa C. Richardson, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

“What that means to healthcare providers like me is helping people to have the information they need to make healthy choices where they live, work, learn, and play.”

The evidence is clear and overwhelming that, aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight is the single most effective step you can take to lower your cancer risk.

Healthcare Providers’ Focus on Weight Management Key to Helping to Decrease Cancer Risk

These findings make your physician’s and other healthcare providers’ awareness of the association between cancer risk and obesity with a focus on candid patient counseling a high priority in decreasing cancer risk.

“Good health is the best prescription for preventing chronic diseases, including cancer” -Dr. Lisa Richardson

Healthcare providers should be:

  • Measuring patients’ weight, height, and body mass index, and counseling them on keeping a healthy weight and its role in cancer prevention.
  • Refering patients with obesity to intensive programs that include a variety of activities to help people manage their weight.
  • Connecting patients and families with community services to help them have easier access to healthy food and ways to be active.

Healthy lifestyle choices are not just a matter of helping to prevent heart, lung and vascular disease and diabetes. The evidence is clear and overwhelming that, aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight is the single most effective step you can take to lower your cancer risk.

The American Institute for Cancer Research video below reports on cancer as the heavy cost of being heavy, and breaks down everything you need to know about obesity and cancer.

ABOVE VIDEO: Research links excess body fat with increased risk for cancer, as well as other chronic diseases. Why is this and what can we do about it? This video breaks down everything you need to know about obesity and cancer.

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