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CDC: Obesity is Associated with 13 Different Types of Cancer

January 04, 2018

About 33 percent of American adults are obese. It’s been well documented that obesity increases your risk for various chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and even cancer.

Now, a recent study highlights just how strong the link is between rel="noopener noreferrer" obesity and cancer. A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has found a connection between obesity and 40 percent of all cancer diagnosed in the country. The report also says obesity can be linked to 13 different types of cancer, including brain cancer, breast cancer after menopause, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, gallbladder cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, thyroid cancer and uterine cancer. 

The CDC said that in 2014, 631,000 Americans were diagnosed with cancer linked to being overweight or obese. The diagnosis of these cancers was highest among people age 50 and older and among women. The agency also said that incidence rates for most cancers, with the exception of colorectal cancer, increased among Americans between the ages of 20 and 74.

The numbers are really concerning because rates of overweight and obesity-related cancers are high and continue to increase in the U.S., according to the CDC. Between 2005 and 2014, the rate of obesity-related cancers increased 7 percent. Overall, the rate of new cancer diagnoses has dropped over the last 20 years, but overweight and obesity-related cancers may be preventing even further declines in the country’s cancer rates. In fact, the rate of cancers not associated with obesity actually dropped by 13 percent over the same time period.

The report indicates that losing weight could significantly reduce many people’s risk of developing cancer. I know we say it all the time, but maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and a physically active lifestyle are so important for overall health — not just to avoid cancer and obesity. Losing weight takes rel="noopener noreferrer" time, requires a lot of support and sometimes medical interventions like weight loss surgery. Some studies even have shown that people who undergo weight loss surgery may reduce their risk of developing certain cancers by as much as 80 percent.

To be clear, not everyone will need surgical interventions to lose weight. But my overall point is that maintaining a healthy weight — however someone achieves this goal — is critical to reducing your risk for obesity-related cancers.

As doctors, we also can do more to help patients. As with most health conditions, prevention and early intervention are key. As the CDC states in its report, comprehensive cancer control strategies and evidence-based interventions to promote healthy weight are two approaches that could lower rates of overweight and obesity-related cancers. 

As a country, we know that obesity is an ongoing public health challenge. In fact, it’s truly a crisis at this point. This study highlights that the increased prevalence of obesity is slowly but steadily leading to higher rates of other related diseases. By addressing obesity and giving patients the knowledge and intervention strategies they need to stay healthy, we could eventually make significant headway in combatting this public health crisis and several other chronic conditions.

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