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Study: Obesity linked to 13 types of cancer

Further underscoring the value of healthy eating and active living, a review of more than a thousand studies has found solid evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk for at least 13 types of cancer (Source: “Obesity Is Linked to at Least 13 Types of Cancer,” New York Times Well blog, August 24, 2016).

Strong evidence was already available to link five cancers to being overweight or obese: adenocarcinoma of the esophagus; colorectal cancer; breast cancer in postmenopausal women; and uterine and kidney cancers.

This new review, conducted by a working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, and published in The New England Journal of Medicine, links an additional eight cancers to excess fat: gastric cardia, a cancer of the part of the stomach closest to the esophagus; liver cancer; gallbladder cancer; pancreatic cancer; thyroid cancer; ovarian cancer; meningioma, a usually benign type of brain cancer; and multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.

According to the chairman of the working group, Dr. Graham Colditz, a professor of medicine and surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, these 13 cancers together account for 42 percent of all new cancer diagnoses.

“Only smoking comes close” as an environmental factor affecting cancer risk, Dr. Colditz said. “And that’s an important message for nonsmokers. Obesity now goes to the top of the list of things to focus on.”