Obesity & Cancer

Obesity and CancerEvidence from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) shows that people carrying extra body fat increases the risk for 11 types of cancer.  This includes postmenopausal breast and endometrial cancer.  How long women have been overweight and obese, suggests that if they keep their weight steady and/or lose weight, even small amounts, it may help lower their risk for several cancers.  This especially includes the postmenopausal breast and endometrial cancers.

There is more insight also into whether losing weight leads to lower cancer risk.  We know it helps prevent other chronic conditions like type-2 diabetes, but the researchers are still working to establish the link with cancer risk.

The Women’s Health Initiative study was reviewed by the researchers at how long women had been overweight and/or obese before developing cancer compared to those women who did not develop cancer.  The height and weight was measured on 74,000 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 when they entered the study and again 3 years later.  They then self-reported weight and height, looking back to ages 18, 35 and 50, and then again several times later in the study.  That data was used to do the analysis based on statistical modeling.

They found the longer women were overweight, the higher their risk of obesity-related cancers. For every 10 years of overweight or obesity as an adult, their risk went up by 7%.  For the postmenopausal breast cancer, the risk increased by 5% and 17% for endometrial cancer. Furthermore, for every 10 years that women had a BMI of at least 35, breast cancer risk went up by 8% and for endometrial by 37%.

This is the first study to look at how the length and amount of adult overweight and obesity impact cancer risk.  This is a definite message that it’s never too late to lower your risk through avoiding weight gain and better by losing weight.

Now is a good time to not gain more even if your weight is at a healthy level or you’ve been gaining more than what is right for you.  The AICR has a 12-week weight program, the New American Plate ChallengeTM that begins in September.  This is a weekly challenge to help you eat a more cancer-protective diet and move closer to a path of a healthier lifestyle.  Hop on board and decrease your chances of cancer.

-Dr Fredda Branyon