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Obesity Doubles Risk of Cancer

February 27, 2008 in Weight Management, Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

For the first time, being overweight has been linked to several less common forms of cancer. Also, men and women appear to be affected differently by excess body fat when it comes to cancer risk.

In this study published in the Lancet medical journal, data from 144 studies involving more than 282,000 men and women was analyzed to determine the relationship between obesity, cancer and gender. Twenty different types of cancer were included in this study.

Men who went from being at a normal weight to being overweight increased their risk of thyroid cancer by a third. Risk of kidney and colon cancers went up 24 percent in these heavier men.

Women who became overweight increased their risk of gall bladder cancer by 59 percent and kidney cancer by 34 percent.

It appears that changes in hormones due to the amount of fat cells in the body differ in men and women, which may explain the gender difference in cancer risk due to excess body fat.

The findings come after a major report from the World Research Cancer Fund in October 2007 showed that excess body fat was likely to cause some cancers.

Obesity is a major nutrition-related public health issue because it also raises the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In Canada, the number of obese adults aged 25 to 34 has more than doubled over the last 25 years - up from nine percent to 21 percent in 2004.

Researchers use body mass index (BMI) as a measure of body weight. BMI is a calculation of height to weight. The normal range is considered to be 18 to 25; a BMI over 25 is overweight and above 30 is obese.

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