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Cancer Risk Increases with Your Weight

by Matt Weik

Obesity and cancer are two things that are plastered in front of our face every day of our lives. It’s something that we can’t seem to beat. Both obesity and cancer, however, do seem to go hand-in-hand in some instances. Obesity-related cancers such as bowel, breast, and pancreatic are on the rise and researchers are trying to understand the correlation better and how to prevent/beat it.

A stunning study

Researchers conducted a study where they looked at around 300,000 people (around 177,500 men and 111,500 women) to look if there is a correlation between people gaining weight over time and their risk for cancer. What they used as a measuring stick is the individuals BMI (body mass index). The group for this study were between the ages of 18 and 65. As you would expect, the results of weights were all over the board. You had individuals who pretty much maintained their weight, individuals who gained a little weight, and then those who gained a ton of weight. After the study was conducted the researchers then followed the group for around 15 years to see who developed obesity-related cancers.

Here’s where the scary stats come into play. The findings of the study showed that men who went from a BMI of nearly 22 up to 27 had a 50% increased risk of obesity-related cancers. Likewise, those individuals who went from being overweight and moved up to morbidly obese had their risk go up by 53%. Women who started at a BMI of 23 and went up to around 32 showed a 17% increased risk of obesity-related cancers. Of all the participants in the study, it was shown that 5,500 men and 9,400 women over the age of 65 ended up being diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer even though men showed a greater risk level for obesity-related cancer.

As mentioned earlier, some of the obesity-related cancers are bowel, breast, and pancreatic. Women actually have more risks than men since obesity can increase the chance of womb cancer as well as ovarian cancer.

Ways to help reduce your risk of obesity-related cancers

It isn’t rocket science, but keeping your weight under control and in a healthy range is the best thing you can do to prevent obesity-related cancers and obesity in general. Exercising regularly and choosing a healthy diet will help you manage your weight. Obesity-related cancers are preventable if you follow these guidelines.

What the researchers are saying

One researcher said that, “This research shows how important it is to look at weight gain over a person’s lifetime—to give a clearer picture of cancer risk through life compared to assessing someone’s BMI at a single point. This study could also be really useful in public health. It could help identify people who would benefit the most from taking action to control their weight before any health problems arise—including a cancer diagnosis.”

Another researcher mentioned, “This is a really interesting way to look at lifetime risk of obesity-related cancers and helps us understand the effects of weight gain over time. It’s important that people are informed about ways to reduce their risk of cancer. And while there are no guarantees against the disease, keeping a healthy weight can help you stack the odds in your favor and has lots of other benefits too. Making small changes in eating, drinking and taking exercise that you can stick with in the long term is a good way to get to a healthy weight—and stay there.”

Obesity is a real concern that we all live with. If it doesn’t directly affect us, we most certainly know people who suffer from this disease and can’t seem to get their weight under control. These individual truly need to seek help before it’s too late and their health starts to deteriorate or they end up with one of the obesity-related cancers mentioned above. One of the researchers stated that, “This study provides a deeper understanding of the health implications caused by the obesity epidemic. It helps paint the picture of how risk could accumulate over time for different people, and could provide health professionals with a means to asses an individual’s risk.”

Materials supplied by Cancer Research UK

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