Can Losing Weight Cut Cancer Risk?
According to the National Cancer Institute, obesity may increase your likelihood of developing certain cancers. But losing those extra pounds may help you reduce your risk.
“Every year, we are getting increasing knowledge that indicates a very strong correlation between obesity and the development of multiple types of cancer,” says Scott Lawrence Fleischauer, M.D., oncologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. “Even though it’s not clear to what degree obesity plays a role, we do know that maintaining a healthy weight will help decrease the risk of developing new cancers and lower the frequency of reoccurring disease.”
Dr. Fleischauer’s assessment is strongly supported by recent research conducted by the World Health Organization’s Agency for Research on Cancer, which was reported in The Lancet Oncology journal. Specifically, the research group has found that people with a high body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more are at the highest risk for developing cancers such as:
The National Cancer Institute notes that postmenopausal women who are obese may be more likely to get breast cancer due to increased estrogen levels. However, eating low-calorie foods and getting regular exercise may reduce the danger of disease.
“After each of my patients completes chemotherapy or surgery treatments, I immediately shift the focus to weight loss,” Dr. Fleischauer says. “Maintaining a healthy weight is just as important as any other therapy. That has become a focal point for breast oncologists across the United States.”
While a large waist circumference and high BMI put both men and women at an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer, the stakes are a little higher for men. Researchers have not clearly defined the reasons for this correlation, but studies suggest that high insulin levels may be the connecting factor.
The Power of Prevention
According to the National Cancer Institute, losing just a few pounds can benefit people of average weight and overweight people alike. Specifically, if everyone lost about 2.2 pounds, they could help bring down the total number of cancer cases in the population and prevent roughly 100,000 new cancer cases from occurring.
Losing is a team effort. Texas Health Resources is here to help you achieve your ideal weight. Visit TexasHealth.org to learn more about fitness and weight loss services.
Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.