Two recently published studies emphasize the relationship between excess weight and cancer. The first was recently published in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (MMWR) and determined that in 2014, 40% of all cancers in the U.S. are obesity- or overweight-related cancers. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), at least 13 cancers (with an emphasis on the words at least, and also cancer) are clearly linked to excess body fat.

For the study, researchers from the CDC (C. Brooke Steele, DO,; Cheryll C. Thomas, MSPH, S. Jane Henley, MSPH, Greta M. Massetti, PhD, Deborah A. Galuska, PhD, Tanya Agurs-Collins, PhD, Mary Puckett, PhD, and Lisa C. Richardson, MD) analyzed data from the United States Cancer Statistics and found that from 2005 to 2014 the incidence of all overweight- and obesity-related cancers (except for colorectal cancer) increased significantly among people from 20 to 74 years old. The study demonstrated that in 2014, 40% of the nearly 1.6 million cancers diagnosed came from this list. 

The second study just published in the Annals of Surgery found that patients who underwent bariatric surgery had a 33% lower risk of developing any cancer than similar patients who did not undergo the surgery. For this study, a team of researchers (Daniel Schauer, MD, MSc, Heather Spencer Feigelson, PhD, MPH, Corinna Koebnick, MSc, PhD, Bette Caan, DrPH, Sheila Weinmann, PhD, MPH, Anthony C. Leonard, PhD; J. David Powers, MS; Panduranga R. Yenumula, MD, David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH) reviewed the medical records of patients from five Kaiser Permanente locations in Southern California, Northern California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington. They selected 22,198 patients who had undergone bariatric surgery between 2005 and 2012 and determined whether they developed cancer in the subsequent years after the surgery up to the year 2014. They did the same type of analysis for 66,427 patients who were similar in gender, age, body mass index, and general health but did not have bariatric surgery. Compared to patients who did not get the surgery, patients who underwent the surgery were 41% less likely to have developed any of the 13 obesity-associated cancers.

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