Breast Cancer in a Dish

Obesity and Cancer: Risks and Prevention

Do you think the primary risks of obesity are diabetes and heart disease? Well, perhaps you should think again. The link between obesity and cancer clearly deserves your attention.

A new report published in the CDC MMWR examines trends in cancers associated with obesity. Brooke Steele and colleagues found that 40% of all cancers diagnosed in 2014 were linked to excess weight and obesity. Among those cancers, only the rate of colorectal cancer diagnosis was going down. For all other cancers associated with obesity, the rates increased between 2005 and 2014.

Lower Risk After Bariatric Surgery

If you doubt the relationship between obesity and cancer risk, consider a study just published in the Annals of Surgery. Daniel Schauer and colleagues studied 22,198 people having bariatric surgery. They compared the surgery patients to a matched control group of 66,427 people. The hazard for developing any form of cancer in 3.5 years following surgery was lower by a third.

The researchers saw significant reductions in breast cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and pancreatic cancers. Obesity appears to play a role in each of those cancers.

An Important Opportunity for Cancer Prevention

Last week in JAMA, Greta Massetti, William Dietz, and Lisa Richardson explained that these insights point to opportunities for cancer prevention. They call for better access to programs for weight management, obesity prevention, and health promotion. Alongside programs for reducing the harm of tobacco use, better prevention and care for obesity has an important role to play.

Click here for the analysis in MMWR, here for the study in Annals of Surgery, and here for the commentary by Massetti, Dietz, and Richardson.

Breast Cancer in a Dish, photograph by Tom Misteli and Karen Meaburn / NCI Center for Cancer Research

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November 9, 2017

One Response to “Obesity and Cancer: Risks and Prevention”

  1. October 12, 2017 at 10:47 am, Karen McBride said:

    Obesity risks also importantly include severe respiratory issues and joint, especially knee, problems. This I see as an RN in a paediatric hospital.