On October 3, 2017, the CDC released a report that found that overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of 13 types of cancer. These cancers account for about 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States in 2014. Overall, the rate of new cancer cases has decreased since the 1990s, but increases in overweight- and obesity-related cancers are likely slowing this progress. In 2013-2014, approximately two out of three adults in the U.S. were overweight (defined as having a body mass index of 25-29.9 kg/m2) or had obesity (having a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 and higher).
About 630,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with a cancer associated with overweight and obesity in 2014. Approximately two in three occurred in adults 50- to 74-years-old. The rates of obesity-related cancers, not including colorectal cancer, increased by seven percent between 2005 and 2014. Colorectal cancer decreased 23 percent, due in large part to screening. The rates of non-obesity related cancers decreased 13 percent 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,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “By getting to and keeping a healthy weight, we all can play a role in cancer prevention.”
Many people are not aware that being overweight and having obesity are associated with some cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified 13 cancers associated with overweight and obesity: meningioma, multiple myeloma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, and cancers of the thyroid, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, ovaries, uterus, colon and rectum (colorectal).
The report also measured demographic variation in overweight- and obesity-related cancers. 55 percent of all cancers diagnosed in women and 24 percent of those diagnosed in men are associated with overweight and obesity. Non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites had higher incidence rates compared with other racial and ethnic groups. Black males and American Indian/Alaska Native males had higher incidence rates than white males. Cancers associated with overweight and obesity, excluding colorectal cancer, increased among adults younger than age 75.
“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,’” said Lisa C. Richardson, M.D., M.P.H., director of the 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.”
See the CDC Announcement
See the CDC Report