According to a new study published in The Lancet, being overweight or obese may increase a person's likelihood of developing 10 of the most common cancers, including breast, cervical, colon, gallbladder, kidney, leukemia, liver, ovarian, thyroid, and womb.
Researchers identified 5.24 million people at least 16 years of age who were cancer-free and had been observed for an average of 7.5 years. The team, led by Krishnan Bhaskaran, MSc, PhD, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, examined study participants' body mass index (BMI) and analyzed their risk of developing 22 of the most common cancers.
An increase of 5 kg/m2 in BMI was linked to an increased incidence of cervical, gallbladder, kidney, leukemia, thyroid, and womb cancer. In addition, a high BMI was associated with an elevated risk of developing breast, colon, liver, and ovarian cancer.
The researchers pointed out that the increased risk for developing a certain type of cancer was also dependent on a participant's sex and menopausal status. Breast cancer occurred less often in obese, younger, pre-menopausal women.
Nearly 77 million adults in the United States are obese. Being overweight and obese can increase a person's risk of cancer, coronary disease, diabetes, hypertension, and stroke.
Overweight and obesity is a global health concern. In the US, more than 69% of adults aged 20 years or over are overweight or obese. Similar numbers are found in the UK, where around 62% of individuals aged 16 or over are overweight or obese.
It is well known that being overweight can increase the risk of potentially serious health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Past research has also suggested that overweight and obesity can increase the risk of cancer.
Now, researchers led by Dr. Krishnan Bhaskaran, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK, have conducted what they say is the largest study of its kind to assess the link between body mass index (BMI) and cancer.