It’s no secret that many Americans are struggling with obesity.
Now the biggest reason to stop obesity isn’t because of appearances, say American and British researchers.
According to a new study reported in The Lancet Oncology, obesity is now responsible for nearly 500,000 new cancer cases in the United States, with that number only expected to grow.
Worse yet, female cancer–such as endometrial and breast cancer–account for nearly 75 percent of all diagnosed cancers related to obesity.
For researchers, the news isn’t good.
“Our findings add support for a global effort to address the rising trends in obesity,” says Dr. Melina Arnold, a researcher from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and study leader. “If this trend continues, it will certainly boost the future burden of cancer, particularly in South America and North Africa, where the largest increases in the rate of obesity have been seen over the last 30 years.”
Collecting information on obesity from a number of countries, including The United States, the U.K., and Argentina, researchers looked at how much of the population was obese–as well as how often these numbers correlated with increases in certain cancers. Not surprisingly, during their analysis they found that the United States reported one of the highest rates of obesity.
As a consequence, however, they also found that the United States accounted for a large portion of obesity-related cancer cases in the world–making up nearly two-thirds of all reported cases along with Europe.
“If 3.6 percent of all cancers are associated with [overweight and obesity], that is nearly half a million cancers, but this number is large mainly because the world population is large,” says Dr. Benjamin Bairns, a researcher from the University of Oxford. “Global health resources specifically for cancer prevention are not so large, and the resources targeted at obesity must be balanced against those for other important causes of cancer, particularly infections and tobacco use, which are each associated with much larger proportions of cases.”
On the contrary, countries or continents where the obesity rate was low, such as sub-Saharan African, reported the lowest amounts of obesity-related cancer. Generally, these numbers rose in countries where obesity was also problematic, leading researchers to believe obesity may also be fueling a cancer epidemic.
These findings don’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, however.
“While the study showed an association between obesity and the rising number of cancer cases worldwide, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link,” says Robert Preidt, a reporter for HealthDay.
What This Means For You
As if being obese wasn’t bad enough, now here’s another reason to lose weight–it could raise your risk of cancer. As for ways to keep your weight under control, healthy eating–and not necessarily crash dieting–may provide the most effective means of trimming down, say health experts.
Readers: Have you lost a lot of weight before? If so, how did you do it?