Cancer Dangers from Excess Weight

Carrying around extra pounds presents clear health risks. In addition to the well-known connections between obesity and hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, excessive weight also increases the risk of at least 11 types of cancer. Cancer is currently a leading cause of death worldwide, yet worryingly the amount of people who are obese has more than doubled since the 1970s.

This weight-cancer connection has been documented in more than 200 research studies, including a new study released by an international team warning that being overweight is strongly tied to these cancers: colon, rectum, endometrium, breast, ovary, kidney, pancreas, gastric cardia, biliary tract system, and certain cancers of the esophagus and bone marrow. Obesity increases the chances of getting one of these cancers and dying from one of these cancers.

There can now be no doubt that obesity is a widespread public health threat. In fact, it is second only to smoking as a significant preventable cause of cancer. Even if a person cannot achieve normal weight, any reduction in excess weight will reduce the risk of several of these cancers. Thus, weight loss efforts are always worthwhile.


Kyrgiou M, Kalliala I, Markozannes G, et al. Adiposity and cancer at major anatomical sites: umbrella review of the literature. BMJ 2017;356:j477.

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