Being overweight and obese puts people at greater risk of developing 22 types of the most common cancers, according to research in the Lancet medical journal.
A higher body mass index (BMI) increases the risk of developing 22 of the most common cancers. Each 5 kg/m increase in BMI was clearly linked with a higher risk of cancers of the uterus (62%), gallbladder (31%), kidney (25%), cervix (10%), thyroid (9%), and leukemia (9%). Higher BMI also increased the overall risk of the liver (19%), colon (10%), ovarian (9%), and breast cancers (5%), but the effects on these cancers varied by underlying BMI and by individual-level factors such as sex and menopausal status.
Even within normal BMI ranges, higher BMI was associated with an increased risk of some cancers. The way that fat is distributed around the body can also affect the risk of cancer. Apple-shaped people who put on weight around their stomach may have higher risks than pear-shaped people who put on weight around their hips.
Keeping a healthy weight reduces cancer risk and losing weight may reduce cancer risk
One study found that women who lost 20 pounds or more had 11% lower risks of cancer overall compared to women who had never lost that much weight. 49 Another study found that women who lost 10kg since menopause and kept the weight off more than halved their risk of breast cancer.
When people try to lose weight through short-term fixes, in most cases, they end up putting the weight back on. It’s unclear how this weight cycling affects the risk of cancer. But at least one study found that women whose weight had gone up and down by over 10 pounds, more than ten times, had higher risks of kidney cancer than those whose weight was stable. 36 While this was just a single study, it does suggest that the best way to reduce the risk of cancer is to maintain healthy body weight over time.
Parents can reduce their children’s cancer risk in adult life by encouraging them to eat healthily and keep active
Eating habits established in childhood often endure after many years. In 1993, a group of scientists showed that at least half of obese children were still obese as adults 50. And this proportion is likely to be even higher now.
The following actions will assist you in choosing healthier options:
Make minor adjustments to your diet and exercise regimen. Members of your healthcare team can offer assistance if you struggle with eating less and moving more. Professionals who can assist you in making adjustments include a qualified dietitian, an exercise specialist, a psychologist, or a physician who focuses on weight loss.
Get assistance. When attempting to modify one’s lifestyle, it’s critical to feel supported. Sessions with a dietician or weight loss expert are typically included in weight loss programs. They can assist you in making better choices and sustaining them over time. Ask your family for assistance as you discuss the adjustments you wish to make. If the individuals you live with also make adjustments, it will be much simpler for you to do so.
Medication. If diet and exercise are ineffective for you and your obesity is contributing to other major health issues, some medical professionals may advise taking medication.