13 Cancers Linked to Obesity and How to Reduce Your Risk

Jul 03, 2021
obesity's link to cancer

Cancer is a topic nobody wants to discuss, but it is a reality we must face as millions of Americans are affected by cancer each year. In 2021, an estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed, and more than 600,000 people will die of cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Did you know that maintaining a healthy body weight, being physically active and eating a healthy diet are among the most effective strategies for reducing your risk of developing cancer? It is estimated that at least 18 percent of all cancer cases and 16 percent of cancer deaths are attributed to the effects of being overweight, physical inactivity and poor nutrition, along with other unhealthy lifestyle habits.

According to the CDC, being overweight or having obesity is linked to a higher risk of developing 13 types of cancer which make up 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States each year. The cancers associated with a higher body weight include:

  • Meningioma

  • Esophageal cancer

  • Blood cancer

  • Kidney cancer

  • Uterine cancer

  • Ovarian cancer

  • Thyroid cancer

  • Breast cancer

  • Liver cancer

  • Gallbladder cancer

  • Stomach cancer

  • Pancreatic cancer

  • Colon and rectal cancer

While there is strong evidence that obesity can increase risk for many cancers, less is known about the exact degree to which weight loss can reduce cancer risk. However, several research studies of bariatric surgery patients have found a reduced risk of several types of cancer in these patients.

In 2020, the American Cancer Society released the following diet and physical activity guidelines to help reduce cancer risk. 

  1. Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight throughout life. Keep body weight within the healthy range and avoid weight gain in adulthood.

  2. Be physically active. Adults should get at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75 to 100 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity. Reaching or exceeding the upper limit of 300 minutes per week is optimal for cancer prevention. Children and adolescents should engage in at least one hour of moderate-or vigorous-intensity activity each day. Sedentary behavior, such as sitting, lying down, watching TV and other forms of screen-based entertainment should be limited.

  3. Follow a healthy eating pattern at all ages. A healthy diet includes:

    • Foods that are high in nutrients in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

    • A variety of vegetables of all colors.

    • Whole fruits in a variety of colors.

    • Whole grains.

    • Limiting red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and highly processed foods and refined grain products.

  4. Avoid alcohol consumption. It is best not to drink alcohol, but people who do choose to drink alcohol should limit their consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

If you are overweight or obese and have been unsuccessful losing weight through traditional weight loss methods, such as diet and exercise, weight loss surgery may be an option to help you achieve a healthy body weight and reduce your risk of several health conditions, including cancer. Contact Nicholson Clinic today to learn more. 

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  • obesity and cancer

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