Keeping Your Weight Down Can Help Keep Cancer at Bay

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Maintaining a healthy weight and preventing type 2 diabetes is not only good for your heart, it also lowers your risk of cancer.

Many people don’t know that excess body fat as well as diabetes contribute to certain cancers. A recent study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found that obesity and diabetes account for nearly 6 percent of cancers worldwide – nearly 800,000 cases.

In the U.S., excess body weight alone is believed to be responsible for 8 percent of all cancers and about 7 percent of cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Maintaining a healthy weight has benefits beyond heart heath,” said Dr. Darrell Saunders, a medical oncologist at Mon Health Cancer Center.  “Just as we stress the dangers of tobacco, we want to stress the importance of diet and regular exercise to prevent cancer.”

The National Cancer Institute says that being overweight or obese increases risk of 13 types of cancer, including:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer

How does excess weight cause cancer?

There are a number of possible ways. For instance, extra fat causes changes in the body such as chronic inflammation, excess estrogen production and hormonal changes, all of which can promote cancer growth.

Keeping Your Weight Down Can Help Keep Cancer at BayProblems with diabetes, including high blood sugar and insulin resistance, also pose a risk.

Being overweight or obese is a major risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes itself has been linked to increased risk of colon, liver, pancreatic, bladder, breast and endometrial cancers.

“Because rates of obesity and diabetes are growing, we expect cancer cases will climb as well,” said Dr. Saunders. “We want to work with patients to prevent these diseases, to help patients make lifestyle changes where necessary. In the long run, it saves lives.”

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 9 percent – an estimated 30 million Americans – have diabetes, the vast majority Type 2 diabetes.

If you are at risk of developing diabetes, Mon Health Medical Center can help through our diabetes prevention program.