Obese or overweight? You could be at increased risk of cancer

If you needed another reason to kick your health regime into gear, it’s probably worth knowing that cancers related to being overweight and obese are on the rise.

The recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), showed that non-obesity-related cancers had declined by 13% between 2005 and 2014.

However, it suggested that the decline was being slowed by an increase in overweight and obesity-related types of cancer.

These now account for 40% of all US cancers. In 2014, that translated to 630,000 Americans.


The rise corresponds with a spike in the number of overweight and obese people.

Weight gain of just 5kg was associated with an increased risk of these types of cancers – particularly worrying as a staggering two thirds of US adults fell into this category.

In Australia, 63.4% of the population is overweight or obese – that’s 11.2 million people. But, perhaps even more worrying is the fact that 25% of children are classified overweight.

Also worrying is the fact that obesity in Australia has shot up by 80% over the last 33 years. In fact, Australia is now considered the 13th fattest country in the world. The US is number 8.


Which cancers are we talking about?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified 13 in total: esophageal, colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, stomach, kidney, liver, ovarian, pancreatic, thyroid and postmenopausal breast cancers, as well as meningioma and multiple myeloma.


How does carrying extra weight fuel cancer growth?

Being overweight increases inflammation throughout the body. That can lead to altered levels of insulin, sex hormones, and growth hormones, which can cause cancer cells to grow at a rapid and uncontrolled rate.

Overweight women are at particular risk with endometrial, ovarian and postmenopausal female breast cancers accounting for 42% of overweight and obesity-related cancers.



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Journo turned fitness professional, passionate about helping people to live a healthier and happier life! A long way from London, I now call Sydney home.

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