WASHINGTON — When it comes to obesity, studies often focus on the heart problems that can crop up as people age. New research now points to the cancer risks associated with weight: researchers discovered that of all the cancers diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014, 40 percent were related to overweight and obesity, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Doctors and scientists know of 13 different types of cancer related to body weight and obesity. While the overall number of cancer-sufferers in America has fallen since the 1990s, increases in the proportion of those who suffer from cancers linked to an unhealthy body mass index are likely hurting those numbers.
About 630,000 Americans were diagnosed with these type of cancers in 2014, almost two-thirds of whom were adults between the ages of 50 and 74, the authors said. The new research found that rates of those with body weight-related cancers rose overall by 7 percent. Conversely, rates of non-obesity-related cancers declined during that time.
“A majority of American adults weigh more than recommended – and being overweight or obese puts people at higher risk for a number of cancers – so these findings are a cause for concern,” says Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC, in a statement. “By getting to and keeping a healthy weight, we all can play a role in cancer prevention.”
Researchers also found that 55 percent of all cancers diagnosed in American women and nearly a quarter of men’s cases were linked to unhealthy BMI.
The study analyzed data from the US Cancer Statistics report and reviewed data from 2005 to 2014. According to the CDC, two out of every three American adults were overweight or obese, using BMI as an indicator, in 2013 and 2014.
“As an oncologist, when people ask me if there’s a cure for cancer, I say, ‘Yes, good health is the best prescription for preventing chronic diseases, including cancer,’” says Dr. Lisa C. Richardson, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “What that means to healthcare providers like me is helping people to have the information they need to make healthy choices where they live, work, learn, and play.”
The study was published as part of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.