Overweight And Obesity Linked To 13 Cancers

Northwestern Medicine
Cancer Care/Oncology October 09, 2017
You’re likely aware that being overweight or obese can increase risk of heart attack and diabetes, but did you know that carrying too much weight is linked to cancer as well?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014 were linked to overweight and obesity. While the rate of non-weight related cancer in the United States is going down, the new study found the rate of cancers tied to overweight and obesity, with the exception of colorectal cancer, increased seven percent between 2005 and 2014. 

Christopher George, MD, medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Delnor Cancer Center, says the reason why weight impacts cancer is very complex.

“I caution patients to be wary of overly simplistic explanations like ‘sugar feeds cancer’, and instead focus on realistic weight-loss goals and exercise,” said Dr. George. “There are numerous research studies that suggest exercise can decrease the risk of certain types of cancer. Choose a form of exercise you enjoy.” 

Matthew R. Pittman, MD, medical director of Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital says the association with increase cancer risks is of major concern to obese patients.

“Just as we have worked towards cancer prevention with anti-smoking campaigns and education on sun exposure, we must work to inform patients of the increased cancer risks associated with obesity,” said Dr. Pittman.

The weight loss and bariatric programs at Northwestern Medicine offer nonsurgical and surgical weight loss treatment options, behavior modification, medically supervised classes, support groups and meal plans.

“Lifestyle changes are essential to improve overall well-being and to decrease the cancer risk to obese patients. Each person's weight problem is different and an individualized approach to weight loss is key for long-term success,” said Dr. Pittman.

According to the CDC, the 13 cancers associated with overweight and obesity are: meningioma, multiple myeloma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, and cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus, colon and rectum (colorectal). 

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