The Surprising Connection Between Weight Gain and Cancer Will Make You Rethink Everything

Smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating processed food can all give you cancer. They aren’t the only factors that can, though. Weight gain can also have a major impact on your health, even if it isn’t related to your diet. It can increase your risk of having a heart attack, suffering a stroke, and even makes you more likely to develop cancer.

Even if you feel fine, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface — and it’s worth paying attention to.

How do people gain weight?

A woman adjusts weighing herself while holding her forehead.

Weight gain can come from a number of ways. | Tetmc/iStock/Getty Images

There are too many factors to be able to narrow down an easily fixable cause.

If preventing overweight and obesity were simple, we’d have figured out a universal strategy by now. Harvard Health summarizes only a handful of many more possible factors — including genetics, environmental influences, and yes, the high-calorie food craze. There isn’t just one reason people gain dangerous amounts of weight, which is why it’s even harder when you’re trying to lose it.

Why is losing weight so hard?

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A trainer can help you stay on track. | SolisImages/iStock/Getty Images

At what point do people just stop trying?

Fewer people who need to lose weight are actually trying to — and researchers don’t know why. Healthline outlines several possible factors, including age, genetics, and even food addiction. There are plenty of health conditions that make weight loss harder (though not impossible). Setting and achieving realistic goals isn’t easy — and it’s possible many people, especially in the U.S., just give up.

Many more Americans are overweight than you think

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Staying fit is a full-time job. | Dash_med/iStock/Getty Images

Two-thirds of the U.S. population are currently overweight or obese.

We’ve been hearing about America’s “obesity epidemic” for a long time — it’s nothing new. However, despite increased research and media attention, we’re still struggling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of U.S. adults are overweight, and 1 in 3 are obese. No wonder millions of Americans are living with chronic illnesses — more now than ever before.

What are the risks of gaining too much weight?

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Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about your concerns. |

Obesity increases your risk of dying early.

According to the NIDDK, both overweight and obesity increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and many types of cancer. Carrying around excess weight puts unwanted pressure on your bones, joints, and organs. The Harvard School of Public Health notes that obesity actually increases your risk of premature death with every pound you gain.

The CDC warns of the link between cancer, overweight, and obesity

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Staying under your ideal weight can prevent serious health issues. | Demaerre/iStock/Getty Images

Women 50 years and older are most likely to develop obesity-related cancers.

A 2017 report showed that approximately 40% of all cancer diagnoses in the U.S. between 2005 and 2014 were related to being overweight or obese. Officials already knew that significant weight gain and carrying extra weight over the long-term increases the risk of developing 13 different types of cancer. These findings confirm this risk factor impacts a large number of Americans every year.

Which cancers are associated with weight gain?

A woman struggles to button her pants.

A scary consequence of being overweight. | Voyagerix/iStock/Getty Images

Your risk for breast, ovarian, liver, and other cancers increases with weight.

The National Cancer Institute lists a total of 13 different types of cancer associated with weight gain, overweight, and obesity. Here are a few of the most common cancers you’re at a higher risk for if you are overweight:

  • Breast cancers
  • Colon cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer

How losing weight decreases your disease risk

Females working out in gym with barbell.

A solution you should get behind. | Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

Some of America’s most common diseases — even cancer — are partially preventable.

Losing even a few pounds could significantly improve your overall health. Why is weight gain so dangerous for people already at risk for cancer? It’s complicated. The American Cancer Society estimates increased hormone production, inflammation, and immune system function are just several possible contributors.

Though it’s hard to picture the long-term effects of poor diet and lifestyle behaviors, transforming your eating and exercise habits now can make a huge difference. Here’s what you can start eating for every meal to lose weight gradually.