Obesity Linked to Eight More Cancers

It’s been long known that being overweight or obese carries an increased risk for developing cancer, and until now that list was pretty short…a total of five cancers -- colorectal, esophageal (adenocarcinoma), renal cell carcinoma, breast cancer in postmenopausal women and uterine endometrial cancer.

New research has expanded the list to eight additional cancers, in addition to the already known five that were previously identified. The eight more cancers added to that list are: stomach (gastric cardia), liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovarian, thyroid, meningioma and multiple myeloma.

The new findings were found by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organization (WHO) organization. The summary was published in the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Volume 16: Body Fatness. This is an update to the previously published report from 2002 that identified the original list of five cancers connected to obesity.

That means a total of 13 cancers are associated with being overweight or obese.

Makes you want to re-think your portion sizes and food choices, immediately, doesn’t it?

According to research, there is also limited evidence suggesting a link for three other cancers -- fatal cancer of the prostate, breast cancer in men and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Bringing the tally of obesity-related cancers to 16 in all.

Greater Number of Deaths

The new findings will greatly add to the number of deaths worldwide attributed to obesity. According to IARC, in 2013, there were an estimated 4.5 million deaths worldwide caused by obesity.

Obesity is a worldwide epidemic that continues to grow -- and estimated 649 million adults were considered obese in 2014, which is a six-fold increase since 1975. And in 2013, there were 110 million obese children -- a two-fold increase since 1975.

What’s the obesity-cancer connection? There are several mechanisms linking excessive body fat with carcinogenesis that have been identified, including chronic inflammation and dysregulation of the metabolism of sex hormones, according to the IARC findings.

What to do? Preventing obesity is key in not only reducing cancer risk, but also risks associated with heart disease, diabetes as well. Lifestyle modifications through diet and activity are the best ways to do so.

The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine August 25th issue.