Ex­cess Weight and Can­cer Risks

Lim­it­ing weight gain could help to re­duce risk of th­ese cancers

Wellness Update - - Content - —Caro­line Ar­banas, cour­tesy of Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity School of Medicine in St. Louis

Re­searchers have identi ed eight ad­di­tional types of can­cer linked to ex­cess weight and obe­sity. Lim­it­ing weight gain over time could help to re­duce the risk of th­ese cancers, the data sug­gest.

There’s yet an­other rea­son to main­tain a healthy weight as we age. An in­ter­na­tional team of re­searchers has identi ed eight ad­di­tional types of can­cer linked to ex­cess weight and obe­sity: stom­ach, liver, gall­blad­der, pan­creas, ovary, menin­gioma (a type of brain tu­mor), thy­roid can­cer and the blood can­cer mul­ti­ple myeloma.

Lim­it­ing weight gain over the decades could help to re­duce the risk of th­ese cancers, the data sug­gest.

The find­ings, pub­lished Aug. 25 in The New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine, are based on a re­view of more than 1,000 stud­ies of ex­cess

weight and can­cer risk an­a­lyzed by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s In­ter­na­tional Agency for Can­cer on Re­search (IARC), based in France.

“The bur­den of can­cer due to be­ing over­weight or obese is more ex­ten­sive than what has been as­sumed,” said can­cer preven­tion ex­pert Gra­ham Colditz, MD, DrPH, at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity School of Medicine in St. Louis, who chaired the IARC Work­ing Group. “Many of the newly identi ed cancers linked to ex­cess weight haven’t been on peo­ple’s radar screens as hav­ing a weight com­po­nent.”

The nd­ings could have a signi cant bear­ing on the global pop­u­la­tion. World­wide, an es­ti­mated 640 mil­lion adults and 110 mil­lion chil­dren are obese, in­clud­ing one-third of adults and chil­dren in the United States.

In 2002, the same group of can­cer re­searchers found su cient ev­i­dence link­ing ex­cess weight to higher risks of cancers of the colon, esoph­a­gus, kid­ney, breast and uterus.

“Life­style fac­tors such as eat­ing a healthy diet, main­tain­ing a healthy weight and ex­er­cis­ing, in ad­di­tion to not smok­ing, can have a signi cant impact on re­duc­ing can­cer risk,” said Colditz, who also is as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of preven­tion and con­trol at Site­man Can­cer Cen­ter at Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity and Barnes-Jewish Hospi­tal. “Pub­lic health e orts to com­bat can­cer should fo­cus on th­ese things that peo­ple have some con­trol over.”

For most of the cancers on the newly ex­panded list, the re­searchers noted a pos­i­tive dose-re­sponse re­la­tion­ship: the higher the body-mass in­dex, or BMI, the greater the can­cer risk.

The can­cer risks as­so­ci­ated with ex­cess weight were sim­i­lar for men and women and, when data were avail­able, were con­sis­tent across ge­o­graphic re­gions – North Amer­ica, Europe, Asia and the Mid­dle East.

There are many rea­sons why be­ing over­weight or obese can in­crease can­cer risk, the re­searchers noted. Ex­cess fat leads to an over­pro­duc­tion of es­tro­gen, testos­terone and in­sulin, and pro­motes in am­ma­tion, all

of which can drive can­cer growth.

num“ i ni cant ers of the and the wor d s popu ation are over­wei ht Co dit said This is an­other wa e-up ca It s time to ta e our hea th and our di­ets se­ri­ous y w“ ut osin ei ht is hard for many peop e he added ather than et­tin dis­coura ed and ivin up those stru in to ta e o wei ht cou d in­stead fo­cus on avoidin more wei ht ain

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