The Link Between Obesity and Cancer

The Link Between Obesity and CancerScientific studies have shown there is a link between obesity and cancer.

Over the past few decades, the number of obese Americans has risen. Today, 78.6 million Americans are obese. This means more than one-third of people in the United States face an increased risk for developing cancer.

Obesity and Cancer – Epidemics in America

Obesity is a condition in which someone has an abnormally high percentage of body fat. A medical professional measures body fat in terms of body mass index (BMI), which is a ratio of height to body weight. To determine BMI, divide height in meters by weight in kilograms squared. Healthcare professionals define a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 as a healthy weight, and a BMI of 30 and above as obese. Someone with a BMI somewhere in between is overweight but not obese.

Accounting for about one in four deaths, cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the United States. In 2014, doctors will have diagnosed an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases, and 585,720 Americans will die from cancer.

Obesity Increases the Risk for Certain Cancers

Researchers have established a strong connection between obesity and the risk for certain types of cancer, including cancers of the:

  • Breast in postmenopausal women
  • Colon and rectum, otherwise known as colorectal cancer
  • Endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus
  • Esophagus
  • Gallbladder
  • Kidney
  • Pancreas
  • Thyroid

Several studies show the link between cancer and obesity. Scientists in one 2007 study estimated that about 34,000 new cases of cancer in men and 50,500 new cases in women were the result of obesity.

There are more than 100 different types of cancer, and obesity does not raise the risk for each equally. Obesity can raise the risk as much as 40 percent for some types of cancers, especially esophageal adenocarcinoma, a type of throat cancer, and endometrial cancer, which affects a woman’s reproductive organs.

Weight Loss Reduces Risk for Obesity and Cancer

Fortunately, weight loss does reduce the risk for cancer in most cases. Today’s healthcare professionals offer a wide range of treatments and therapies to help clients lose weight and reduce cancer risk. Some of the most helpful services include:

  • Medical weight loss for adults and children
  • Nutrition education
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Exercise education
  • Meal replacements, such as Optifast

To learn more about the association between cancer and obesity, consult a physician. Medical weight loss can optimize the results of a sensible diet and exercise plan to greatly reduce the risk for developing cancer.