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Obesity Increases Cancer Risk in Women

Obesity has long been associated with an increased risk for cancer, but new research shows just how risky excess weight can be. A recent British study found that obese women are 40 percent more likely to develop cancer.

Cancer Research UK found that women who are obese have a one in four lifetime risk of developing weight-related cancer, such as cancer of the bowel, gallbladder, uterus, kidney, pancreas, esophagus and post-menopausal breast cancer.The statistical research team found that 274 of every 1,000 obese women will be diagnosed with cancer, compared with 194 of every 1,000 healthy weight women who will be diagnosed with the disease. The increased lifetime risks for weight-related cancers in obese women are as follows:

  • Postmenopausal breast cancer – 25%
  • Pancreatic cancer – 31%
  • Colon cancer – 32%
  • Kidney cancer – 78%
  • Gallbladder cancer – 100%
  • Uterine cancer – 131%
  • Esophageal cancer – 133%

Obesity can contribute to cancer development in a number of ways, but it is believed that excess weight interferes with the immune system and affects hormone levels, such as estrogen and insulin, which promotes cancer growth.Julie Sharp M.D., head of health information at Cancer Research UK, says healthy weight loss can help reduce the risk of developing these weight-related cancers. “We know that our cancer risk depends on a combination of our genes, our environment and other aspects of our lives, many of which we can control - helping people understand how they can reduce their risk of developing cancer in the first place remains crucial in tackling the disease,” says Sharp. “Lifestyle changes - like not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and cutting back on alcohol - are the big opportunities for us all to personally reduce our cancer risk. Making these changes is not a guarantee against cancer, but it stacks the odds in our favor” (Source: Medical News Today).


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