While the overall rate of cancer has decreased since the 1990s, being overweight or obese will increase one’s risk for 13 types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The cancers which have been linked to overweight and obesity are:
Meningioma (tumor arising from membranes around the brain and spinal cord)
These cancers account for about 40% of all cancers which were diagnosed in the United States in 2014. That year, about 630,000 Americans were diagnosed with one of the above cancers. Around two of every three of these diagnoses were in adults 50-74 years old. In particular, the rates of the overweight- and obesity-related cancers increased by 7% from 2005 to 2014.
“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.”
The rate of occurrence varied between men and women in the study. A total of 55% of all cancers diagnosed in women and 24% of those diagnosed in men were associated with obesity and being overweight.
African Americans and Caucasians had higher incidence rates than those of other racial groups, whereas African American males and Native American males had higher incidence rates than Caucasian males.
One positive point mentioned in the CDC’s study was that colorectal cancers decreased 23% between 2005 and 2014, which the CDC attributed in large part to screening. In addition, cancers not associated with obesity decreased 13%.
American Cancer Society states that for nonsmokers, the biggest cancer risk factors that can be changed are body weight, diet, and physical activity. The following nutritional guidelines have been provided by the society to help maintain a healthy weight:
- Include plant foods in your diet. This includes at least two-and-a-half cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.
- Limited the amount of processed and red meat you eat.
- Choose foods and drinks in portions that support a healthy weight.
- If you drink alcohol, limit your intake. No more than one drink per day for women and two per day for men are recommended.
Other commonly recommended tips for losing weight include drinking plenty of water, eating slowly, tallying what you eat in a food journal (some people find MyFitnessPal to be a handy tool), and shopping primarily along the perimeter of the grocery store, where healthier, non-processed foods tend to be found.