Basilica of Saint Mary of Health

ECO2024: Obesity Implicated in Nearly Half of Cancer Cases…But

Compelling new research presented at ECO2024 implicates obesity in nearly half of all cancer cases. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden analyzed data from more than four million adults to find an additional 19 types of cancer for which obesity likely plays a significant role. They explained:

“The findings of this study have important public health implications. Established obesity-related cancers accounted for 25 per cent of all cancer cases in this study, and the proportion increased to 40 per cent when potential obesity-related cancers were added. Therefore, a substantial proportion of cancers could potentially be prevented by keeping a normal weight.”

Yes…But

EASO President Jason Halford praised the study, saying:

“This is a really strong, large-scale analysis. As always, more research is needed but it reveals what many studying the links between cancer and obesity have suspected; that obesity is likely to be a risk factor for many more types of cancer than we had evidence for before.

“If this does not cause concern for health policy makers it is difficult to see what will.”

And yet, as Halford noted, public health policy has been a “clear failure” – implementing ineffective measures to prevent obesity, while limiting treatment options for the many people who live with the disease.

More of Same Will Bring More Cancer

Responding to this news, health policy advocates offer up more of the same prescriptions that sound good, but to date have been utterly effective for preventing obesity. For instance, Katharine Jenner of the Obesity Health Alliance told the Telegraph:

“We need to make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone.”

Her impulse presumes we can educate, nudge, and coerce people to make healthier choices that will reduce obesity prevalence. In the harsh reality of a world with rising obesity prevalence, this has proven to be an empty promise. We’ve spent decades pursuing such a strategy with nil effects.

The most rational response to this news about obesity and cancer from ECO2024 would be to recognize that global public health faces a time bomb. Ineffective obesity policies are setting us up for an explosion in obesity-related cancers. Continuing to blame people living with obesity while neglecting their health will only make it worse. We need more effective prevention strategies and better access to care.

Click here for the study abstract presented at ECO2024 and here for a preprint of a full manuscript on this analysis. For further perspective from the Telegraph, click here.

Basilica of Saint Mary of Health, photograph by Ted Kyle / ConscienHealth

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May 13, 2024

One Response to “ECO2024: Obesity Implicated in Nearly Half of Cancer Cases…But”

  1. May 13, 2024 at 12:52 pm, David Brown said:

    If nearly half of all cancer cases are linked to obesity, the other half of all cancer cases must be linked to normal weight and under weight. Maybe the cancer-adiposity/mortality curve is like the total-cholesterol/mortality curve. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-023-50931-6

    Reply

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