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How does being obese affect my risk of developing cancer?

Being overweight, or obese, is estimated to be a factor that directly accounts for 14 percent of all cancers in men and 20 percent of all cancers in women. Based upon data compiled by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society, excess body fat is estimated to cause at least 100,500 (7 percent) of the new cancer cases every year in the United States. Even without changing our lifestyle in other ways, we can bring down our risk of cancer by almost 10 percent by maintaining a normal body weight.

For more than 30 years, excess weight, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet have been considered second only to tobacco use as preventable causes of disease and death in the United States. Since the 1960s, tobacco use has decreased by a third while obesity rates have doubled.

The following six cancers are associated with being overweight: breast cancer among postmenopausal women, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, esophageal adenocarcinoma (a type of throat cancer), and cancer of the kidney and pancreas. Several of these cancers also are associated with not getting enough physical activity.

Adopting a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity can help prevent these cancers.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.