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Morning Rounds: Obesity and cancer links

NORFOLK, Va - The Centers for Disease Control recently released a study that links obesity to an increased risk for certain cancers.  News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light explained the data on News 3 This Morning.

News 3: Being overweight is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, but does being overweight increase your risks for cancer?

Dr. Light: The CDC states that cancers associated with obesity make up 40 percent of the cancer diagnoses in the United States.  In 2014, 630,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with cancer linked to obesity.

News 3: What is considered overweight and who is at risk?

Dr. Light: Obesity is on the rise in the United States.  Two out of three people are overweight.  Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or over, or weighing more than 25 pounds over an individual's ideal weight.  Fifty-five percent of all cancers diagnosed in women are associated with being overweight, while only 24 percent of cancers occurring in men can be attributed to obesity.

News 3: What types of cancer are linked to obesity?

Dr. Light:  13 cancers have been associated with obesity:

  • Menigioma (cancer of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)
  • Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus
  • Multiple Myeloma (cancer of blood cells)
  • Thyroid
  • Kidney
  • Uterus
  • Ovaries
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas
  • Breast (post-menopausal)
  • Liver
  • Gallbladder
  • Colorectal

These cancers all increased by seven percent from 2005-2014.   Colorectal cancer is associated with being overweight, but has actually declined over the last five years due to proactive and advanced screening techniques.

News 3:  What steps can be taken to reduce an individual's risk?

Dr. Light:

  • Regular check ups by healthcare providers where height, weight, and BMI are monitored to ensure a healthy weight is maintained
  • Counseling and weight control programs if the patient is identified as being overweight
  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle of sound nutrition and regular exercise