Weight gain may result in increased cancer risk

By Ryan Maass  |  Nov. 7, 2016 at 10:17 AM
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LIVERPOOL, England, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Significant weight gain may lead to a sharp increase in the risk for developing obesity-related cancers, researchers in Britain say.

In a study presented at the National Cancer Research Institute's Cancer Conference in Liverpool, a research team comprised of scientists from The Health eResearch Centre and The University of Manchester examined the relationship between weight gain and cancer development during adulthood.

Scientists examined 300,000 people from the United States, including 177,500 men and 111,500 women between the ages of 18 and 65. After looking at BMI changes over time, the team concluded individuals who gained the most weight were the most at risk.

"This research shows how important it is to look at weight gain over a person's lifetime -- to give a clearer picture of cancer risk through life compared to assessing someone's BMI at a single point," researcher Hannah Lennon said in a press release.

Subjects were divided into 5 different lifetime weight trajectories based on BMI changes. While some gained little weight over the years, others became morbidly obese. Men who went from a BMI change from around 22 to 27 were found to have a 50 percent increased risk for cancer. Women who went from a BMI of 23 to 32 had a 17 percent increased risk.

In total, 9,400 women and 5,500 men were diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer after the age of 65. Noting obesity is the second-most preventable cause of cancer in Britain, scientists say their study is a valuable contribution to cancer scholarship.

"This study could also be really useful in public health. It could help identify people who would benefit the most from taking action to control their weight before any health problems arise -- including a cancer diagnosis," Lennon added.

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