Being overweight or having obesity increases your risk of getting cancer.

You may be surprised to learn that being overweight or having obesity is linked with a higher risk of getting 13 types of cancer. These cancers make up 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States each year.

Many things are associated with cancer, but avoiding tobacco use and keeping a healthy weight are two of the most important steps you can take to lower your risk of getting cancer.

What Is Obesity?

Weight that is higher than what is considered a healthy weight for a given height is called overweight or obesity.

Body mass index (BMI) is used as a screening tool for overweight and obesity. For adults, a person with a BMI from 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight. A person with a BMI that is 30.0 or higher has obesity.

Which Cancers Are Related to Obesity?

Being overweight and having obesity are linked with a higher risk of getting 13 kinds of cancer. These cancers include:

  1. Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
  2. Breast (in women who have gone through menopause).
  3. Colon and rectum.
  4. Uterus.
  5. Gallbladder.
  6. Upper stomach.
  7. Kidneys.
  8. Liver.
  9. Ovaries.
  10. Pancreas.
  11. Thyroid.
  12. Meningioma (a type of brain cancer).
  13. Multiple myeloma.

Other risk factors can also contribute to these cancers. Some of these risk factors are hormone levels, changes (called mutations) in genes, long-lasting infections, and tobacco and alcohol use. Being overweight or having obesity doesn’t mean that someone will definitely get cancer. But it does mean that they are more likely to get cancer than if they kept a healthy weight.

How Can Obesity Cause Cancer?

Overweight and obesity can cause changes in the body that help lead to cancer. These changes can include long-lasting inflammation and higher than normal levels of insulin, insulin-like growth factor, and sex hormones. The risk of cancer increases with the more excess weight a person gains and the longer a person is overweight.

How Can I Lower My Risk?

You can achieve a healthy weight by making healthy lifestyle choices. You can reduce your risk of obesity-related cancer by following a healthy eating plan and getting regular physical activity.

If weight is something you’ve struggled with for many years and take medicine to treat medical conditions caused by the excess weight, you might be a candidate for bariatric surgery or surgical weight loss. This is a boost for the healthy lifestyle that is required to lower your risk for cancer and other life-altering diseases. Talk to your doctor today about whether you’re a good candidate.

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Independence – Near Centerpoint Hospital: 19101 B Valley View Parkway, Independence, MO 64055 – Directly across the street from Costco
Lee’s Summit – Lee’s Summit Medical Center: 2100 SE Blue Pkwy, Suite 120, Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
Kansas City – St. Joseph Medical Center: 1000 Carondelet Drive, Suite 203B, Kansas City, MO 64114

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