Excess weight accounts for 100,000 cancer diagnoses each year

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According to data published earlier this month by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), some 100,000 cancers in the US every year are linked to excess body fat. The AICR estimates that in the US excess body fat annually accounts for:

49% of endometrial cancers (20,700 cases per year)
35% of esophageal cancers (5,800 cases per year)
28% of pancreatic cancers (11,900 cases per year)
24% of kidney cancers (13,900 cases per year)
21% of gallbladder cancers (2,000 cases per year)
17% of breast cancers (33,000 cases per year)
9% of colorectal cancers (13,200 cases per year)

Weight gain isn’t just a risk factor before diagnosis, it is believed to be one following diagnosis as well. Melinda L. Irwin, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine, noted that excess weight gain plays a negative role both during and after cancer treatment. “An increasing number of studies suggest that regular physical activity improves cancer survival, even among survivors who are overweight or obese. That’s really the take-home message here.”

The association between obesity and cancer risk is not a novel one; in 2003 the American Cancer Society published a study showing that the heavier a person is, the higher their death rates from cancer than the rates among people of normal weight.

The American public seems unaware of the risk. "Public awareness of the link between obesity and cancer risk is alarmingly low," said Alice Bender, MS, RD, Nutrition Communications Manager at AICR. "We are working towards a day when obesity is right up there with tobacco in the public eye."

Read more about the AICR’s results at the American Cancer Society.

By Ross Bonander

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