Being Overweight Causes 4% of World’s Cancers

Excess body weight led to 544,300 individual cancers in 2012.

weight cancer
A link between excess weight and cancer has been established by researchers. (Getty Images)
Getty Images/Image Source

The excess weight that many people around the world carry around causes about 4% of the general populations’ cancers, according to a recent study.

The report also highlights a link between obesity and the risk of 13 cancers, including postmenopausal breast cancer and liver cancer, and a probable relationship with three others, including prostate cancer, CNN reported.

“Despite numerous studies on the health effects of overweight/obesity (excess body weight), the message has not been well disseminated,”  Hyuna Sung, one of the report’s authors and a principal scientist at the American Cancer Society, told the news station.  “In particular, not many people are aware of the link of overweight/obesity to cancer risk.”

In accordance with the study’s findings, the American Cancer Society has concluded that by 2030, there may be 21.7 million new cancer cases and 13 million cancer deaths around the world.

“The future burden will probably be even larger because of the adoption of western lifestyles, such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and fewer childbirths, in economically developing countries,” the group said.

Over the past four decades, the prevalence of “excess body weight” and obesity has increased from 21% in men and 24% in women to approximately 40% in both and it’s consistent everywhere in the world.

The biggest jump was in men who live in Western countries, according to the study, which was published in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The rate among men in these nations rose from 9% to 30%. For women, the biggest increase was spotted in Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, where rates went from 12% to 35%.

“The simultaneous rise in excess body weight in almost all countries is thought to be driven largely by changes in the global food system, which promotes energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, alongside reduced opportunities for physical activity,” Sung said.

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