When weight loss means cancer

If you got on the scale today and saw that you dropped a few pounds without even trying, you’d probably start jumping for joy.

After all, if you lost weight without cutting out your favorite foods or punishing yourself for hours on the elliptical machine, it seems like a reason to celebrate.

But don’t get excited just yet…

I don’t want to bring you down or be overly alarmist, but unintentional weight loss could be a sign that something’s seriously wrong. In fact, a recent scientific review found that it’s more likely a cause for concern than celebration, because it’s one of the top predictors of cancer.

The weight loss/cancer connection

Doctors and scientists have known for a while that weight loss can be a sign of cancer. But a recent review of the research led by the Universities of Oxford and Exeter demonstrated just how strong the connection is.

Researchers found that unintentional weight loss is the second highest risk factor for several types of cancer, and that it’s linked to at least 10 types of cancer.

In their review, researchers looked at data from 25 different studies that included more than 11.5 million people. This data showed that unintentional weight loss is the second highest risk factor for colorectal, lung, pancreatic and renal cancers. And it’s linked to ten cancers total: prostate, colorectal, lung, gastro-esophageal, pancreatic, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian, myeloma, renal tract and biliary tree.

The cancer risk was greatest for people over 60 who lost weight unintentionally. Women over 60 who lose weight have a 6.7 percent higher risk of cancer at all sites, and men over 60 who lose weight have a 14.2 percent higher risk of cancer at all sites.

According to researchers, these risks are high enough to warrant an urgent cancer check for people over 60 who lose weight without trying.

“Our research indicates that coordinated investigation across multiple body sites could help to speed up cancer diagnosis in patients with weight loss. We now need to continue our research to understand the most appropriate combination of tests and to give guidance on how much weight loss GPs and patients should worry about,” said lead study author Dr. Brian Nicholson from the University of Oxford.

Keeping your weight up and your cancer risk down

So, if you start losing weight without trying, play it safe and get yourself to a doctor for a check-up. Once you rule out cancer or other health issues, buy a bottle of bubbly (or kombucha) and celebrate your good health and your weight loss.

You can also take steps to keep your cancer risk down, so you don’t have to deal with bad news at the doctor’s office in the future. Here are a few of the most scientifically-proven ways to lower your cancer risk:

  • Do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five times per week. Make sure to include weight-bearing exercises, like weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis and dancing.
  • Eat a whole food diet that’s high in fiber and filled with fruits and vegetables. Fiber and fresh produce are two of your best weapons in cancer prevention.
  • Don’t drink much alcohol. Stick to one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.
  • Don’t smoke. This one’s self-explanatory. They’re called cancer sticks for a reason.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. The connection between weight and cancer is complicated. Sure, losing weight unintentionally is a warning sign of cancer. But research shows that losing weight intentionally lowers your cancer risk—especially if you’re overweight or obese.

Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!


  1. Weight loss is an important predictor of cancer — MedicalXpress. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  2. Reducing the likelihood of developing cancer MedicalXpress. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  3. Does body weight affect cancer risk? — American Cancer Society. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  4. Exercise for Your Bone Health — NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. Retrieved April 10, 2018.


Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.