Can Weight Loss Reduce Your Cancer Risk?

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It has been shown in a variety of studies that a obesity has been shown to be a risk factor for cancer.  The American Cancer Society points out just how highly connected obesity and cancer are, ” An estimated 1 out of every 3 cancer deaths in the United States is linked to excess body weight, poor nutrition, and/or physical inactivity. These factors are all related and may all contribute to cancer risk, but body weight seems to have the strongest evidence linking it to cancer. Excess body weight contributes to as many as 1 out of 5 of all cancer-related deaths.” Leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a BMI in a healthy range is a good idea for so many reasons – it lowers your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease just to begin with.  Lowering your bodyweight by even a small percentage can have a major impact on your health, but many wonder if it will actually lower their risks of getting cancer.

It is first important to clarify that being overweight is a risk factor but it does not directly cause cancer.  A variety of research studies have been conducted to determine whether or not intentional weight loss can help reduce the risk of cancer and results have been positive.  While conducting research about the topic has proven to be challenging, the National Cancer Institute describes the research findings that support the idea that losing weight reduces the risk of cancer at a later date, ” A projection of the future health and economic burden of obesity in 2030 estimated that continuation of existing trends in obesity will lead to about 500,000 additional cases of cancer in the United States by 2030. This analysis also found that if every adult reduced their BMI by 1 percent, which would be equivalent to a weight loss of roughly 1 kg (or 2.2 lbs) for an adult of average weight, this would prevent the increase in the number of cancer cases and actually result in the avoidance of about 100,000 new cases of cancer… Stronger evidence comes from studies of patients who have undergone bariatric surgery to lose weight. Obese people who have bariatric surgery appear to have lower rates of obesity-related cancers than obese people who did not have bariatric surgery. It is important to note that whereas most lifestyle weight loss interventions result in weight losses of 7-10 percent of body weight, weight loss from bariatric surgery combined with lifestyle changes generally results in weight loss of 30 percent.”  Certain kinds of cancer are more associated with being overweight or obese, such as breast, colon, rectum, uterine, kidney, esophageal, pancreatic, endometrial, thyroid and gallbladder and possibly others.  By lowering your BMI and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet you may be able to lower your risk of those cancers and others and also prevent other potential health problems.



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