Recent Research Finds Obesity Linked To Many Forms of Cancer
Obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing about a dozen cancers, including some common types such as colon and breast cancers, according to recent research, the Wall Street Journal reports. The American Cancer Society estimates that excess weight is a factor in about 90,000, or 16%, of the 563,700 annual cancer deaths nationwide (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 8/24). Obesity's effect on cancer risk garners less attention than its impact on heart disease and diabetes because the cancer risks are a "little bit more subtle" and because cancer progresses more slowly, ACS epidemiologist Eugenia Calle said (Neergaard, AP/Houston Chronicle, 8/23).
Because more than two-thirds of the U.S. population is considered overweight, the cancer society says "the link could have 'profound' implications on future cancer rates" and "undermine hard-fought gains" against cancer death rates, the Journal reports. Since 1993, the overall cancer death rate has decreased by about 1.1% annually, with the largest declines in lung, colon and breast cancer deaths. However, recent studies have found:
- Obese men are up to two times as likely as normal-weight men to develop colorectal cancer, according to a study published this month in Nature Reviews Cancer (Wall Street Journal, 8/24). For women, obesity increases that risk by 20% to 50%.
- A postmenopausal woman's risk of breast cancer increases by 30% if she is overweight and by 50% if she is obese.
- Compared to a normal-weight woman, an overweight woman has a 200% higher risk of developing endometrial cancer, and an obese woman has a 350% to 500% higher risk.
- Obesity raises the risks of developing kidney cancer or a type of esophageal cancer by as much as 300%.