We all know that carrying around extra weight is bad for our health.
In fact, being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of developing:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Fatty liver disease
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney disease
And, the list goes on ending with an elevated risk of death…
One of the most frightening diseases on the list of health risks due to bodyweight is cancer.
Yup, your body weight and your risk of cancer are inextricably linked.
And, thanks to a new international study, led by the University of Bergen in Norway, we now know exactly how close the relationship really is…
Your BMI versus your risk of developing cancer
For the study, the researchers set out to find out how being overweight or obese as an adult raises your risk of different types of cancer. They defined overweight as having a body mass index or BMI over 25 and obesity as a BMI above 30.
The team used data from 220,000 people across Norway, Sweden, and Austria, linking data from national cancer registries to their health examinations, including information on their height and weight.
They found that by the end of the study a whopping 27,881 participants were diagnosed with cancer. And, a full 35 percent of those cancers were obesity-related.
Now, if that doesn’t remind us all of how important our weight is in warding off the Big C, I don’t know what will!
The researchers were also able to break down the results even further and found that if you were overweight before age 40, your risk of developing cancer increases by:
- 70 percent for endometrial cancer
- 58 percent for male renal-cell cancer
- 29 percent for male colon cancer
- 15 percent for all obesity-related cancers ( for both sexes)
Unfortunately, that list of obesity-related cancers is extensive, including:
- Esophageal cancer
- Multiple myelomas (cancer of the blood cells)
- Ovarian cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Cancers of the pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and upper stomach
- Breast cancer
- Cancer of the thyroid
- Meningioma (cancer in the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)
And, yes, that means that being overweight before you hit 40 increases your risk of each and every one of those cancers.
Length of time matters
Even worse, the researchers found that the longer you’re overweight, the more your risk of cancer increases.
The results showed that participants who were obese at two separate health examinations (at least three years apart) had the highest risk of developing obesity-related cancer, compared to participants with normal BMI.
According to the team, the risk increased by 64 percent for male participants and 48 percent for females.
When asked about the implications of the study, Professor Tone Bjørge, at the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, had this to say, “Our key message is that preventing weight gain may be an important public health strategy to reduce the cancer risk.”
Know your numbers and your risk
This means that knowing where you fall on the BMI scale is vital to understanding your cancer risk.
To make it easy, you can hop on over to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and use their handy BMI calculator.
And once you know where you stand, take control of your health and your future. Do your BMI calculations today and if you’re at risk for a type of cancer that comes with a high BMI, remember, it’s never too late to drop the pounds that could put cancer squarely in your future.
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- Health Risks of Being Overweight — National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Being overweight at any point increases risk for death — BMJ
- Overweight before age 40 increases the cancer risk — EurekAlert!
- Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity — National Cancer Institute