Obesity and Cancer

For more than two decades, Americans have faced conflicting information on the real impact of weight on their health. We need to learn more about the relationship between weight and specific health concerns.

In 1994, the US government declared a ‘war on obesity. Since then, obesity has consistently made headlines, with the nation’s waistline expanded annually. Between 1999 and 2018, the US obesity rate increased from 30.5% to 42.4%. That is based on the CDC’s Adult Body Mass Index. Based on BMI, obesity is defined of a score of 30 or higher. A score of 40 or higher is considered ‘severe obesity. The rate of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2% between 1999 and 2018.

What are the Health Risks of Obesity?

Excessive weight and obesity have proven health risks. Obese patients have more complications when dealing with most health conditions and diseases, but there are some health issues with more direct links, including:

· Hypertension

· High cholesterol

· Type 2 diabetes

· Gallbladder disease

· Sleep apnea

· And many others

Most notably, obesity has been linked to more than a dozen types of cancer.

The Obesity Paradox

In 2010, researchers found a number of chronic diseases that flipped the perception of obesity on its head. Several chronic diseases were found to have a decreased rate of mortality in obese patients. This research created a massive gulf between many previous and later studies into obesity. Additionally, obese patients are still at risk; overall mortality in obese patients with heart disease, for example, was much higher than normal BMI patients.

Obesity was found to improve outcomes in dialysis patients, and some elderly patients with heart conditions. On factor, obese elderly patients seemed to benefit the most from carrying extra weight than in younger obese patients.

Obesity and Cancer

While obesity may improve outcomes in certain individuals dealing with certain health issues, there’s no evidence that cancer patients might benefit. Each year, more than 650,000 obesity-related cancer diagnoses occur in the US alone. Of that number, roughly 450,000 are women. That may be due to the prevalence of postmenopausal breast cancer, which is the most common type of cancer linked to obesity in women.

Today, more than 90% of cancers related to obesity occur in adults over the age of 50. This is likely a sign that long-term obesity, unhealthy lifestyles, and changes to bodily functions like inflammation and changes to hormones.

While all body types should be accepted, everyone needs to understand the risks of obesity and the benefits of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Get involved. Consider joining the cancer prevention fight by donating at LessCancer.org.




A collaborative cancer prevention platform reporting on lifestyle, health, education, policy and community based efforts in cancer prevention cancer. The Less Cancer Journal is brought to you by Next Generation Choices Foundation, 501c3 more widely known as "Less Cancer".

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Cody Sovis

Cody Sovis

Low-level marketing guy with a cycling habit. Advocate for cancer prevention, active lifestyles, equality, and breakfast cookies.

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