Medically reviewed by
Karim Tazi, MD
McLeod Oncology and Hematology Associates
Carrying around too much weight can hurt your heart, make you a target for diabetes and raise your risk of cancer.
“More than a dozen different cancers appear related to being overweight or obese,” says McLeod Oncologist Dr. Karim Tazi. “We’re continually seeing new treatments and technology, but it’s up to the individual to take the steps to control their weight.”
Excess body weight can increase cancer risk through numerous mechanisms. It might cause inflammation which can trigger cell damage. We see increased levels of insulin and estrogen in overweight patients which in turn can favor cancer development.
Examples of tumors that seem to be related to excess body weight includes cancer of the:
Although older adults still have more cancers, obesity-linked cancers are growing faster in younger adults than in people over 50 years of age.
Research by the American Cancer Society estimates that in the U.S. obesity is responsible for 8% of all cancers and 7% of cancer deaths. While more research needs to be done on the effect of losing weight to reducing cancer risk, evidence suggests that the risk of some cancers (colon, kidney, and for women after menopause endometrial and breast cancer) may be reduced with weight loss.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Body Mass Index (BMI) is one measure that can give you a picture of your body health. BMI relates height to weight. A BMI over 25 indicates overweight and a BMI of 30 or over indicates obesity.
While weight is just one of several cancer risk factors, a healthy diet and regular exercise can not only put more distance between you and cancer, your heart will also be grateful.
Have a cancer question? Ask a Specialist.
Sources include: McLeod Health, US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, American Cancer Society, American Journal of Managed Care, World Cancer Research Fund International, The Lancet