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Obesity Linked to 40% of All Cancers in The US

Obesity Linked to 40% of All Cancers in The US

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  •  Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk of at least 13 different types of cancer.
  •  Endometrial, ovarian, and postmenopausal female breast cancers accounted for 42% of new cases of overweight-and obesity-related cancers.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life has been associated with a reduction in risk of these cancers.

Being obese or overweight was associated with cancer cases involving more than 630,000 Americans in 2014, and this includes 13 types of cancer.

"That obesity and overweight are affecting cancers may be surprising to many Americans. The awareness of some cancers being associated with obesity and overweight is not yet widespread," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC deputy director.


Brain cancer; multiple myeloma; cancer of the esophagus; postmenopausal breast cancer; cancers of the thyroid, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus and colon are the 13 types of cancers.

Increase in Prevalence of Obesity and Cancer Go Hand in Hand

A new report from the CDC and the U.S. National Cancer Institute states that the 13 obesity-related cancers make up about 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014.

The report was based on a study that analyzed cancer data from the United States Cancer Statistics report dated from 2005 to 2014.

The highlights of the report include:
  • Higher rates of cancer were prevalent in black men and American Indian/Alaska Native men than white men.
  • Compared to other racial groups, blacks and whites had higher rates of weight-related cancer.
  • Overweight and obesity-related cancer was associated with 55% cancer cases in women and 24% in men.
  • Between 2005 and 2014, except for colon cancer, other cancers linked to obesity increased 7 percent.
  • Cancers due to overweight and obesity increased among those younger than 75.
  • Oral cancer, lung cancer and cancers not related to obesity dropped by 13%.
The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that "20 percent of all cancers in the United States are caused by a combination of excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol, and poor nutrition."

The increase in obesity-related cancer incidence coincides with an increase in the prevalence of obesity since 1960 in the United States with larger absolute percentage increases from 1960 to 2004 than from 2005 to 2014. The prevalence of overweight during this later period remained stable.

These historical and current trends in overweight and obesity and cancers related to excess weight reflect the continued need for public health strategies to prevent and control overweight and obesity in children and adults and help communities make it easier for people to be physically active and eat healthfully.

Strategies To Prevent Obesity-Related Cancers

The high prevalence of excess weight might impede further declines in overall cancer incidence without intensified nationwide efforts to prevent and treat overweight and obesity.

  • Investing in addressing both social and behavioral determinants of health, such as unemployment and disparities in education and housing, to achieve better population health.
  • Eating a healthy diet and engaging in sufficient physical activity to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Supporting healthy eating and active living in a variety of settings, including communities, worksites, schools, and early care and education facilities.
  • Health care providers could encourage patients to maintain healthy weights throughout their lifespans.
  • Screening all adults for obesity and either offer patients who have obesity intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions or refer them to programs that offer these services.
 Multilevel approaches to comprehensive cancer control that address social determinants of health and include evidence-based interventions that address healthy weight and other cancer risk factors might help reduce the burden of cancer and other chronic diseases in the United States.

  1. Vital Signs: Trends in Incidence of Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity — United States, 2005-2014 - (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6639e1.htm?s_cid=mm6639e1_w).
  2. Béatrice Lauby-Secretan, Chiara Scoccianti, Dana Loomis., Yann Grosse, Franca Bianchini and Kurt Straif. 'Body Fatness and Cancer — Viewpoint of the IARC Working Group', N Engl J Med (2016).doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1606602.

  3. Source: Medindia

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