10-year study shows obesity increases risk for 12 cancers

By Sommer Brokaw  |  May 24, 2018 at 2:35 PM
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May 24 (UPI) -- A new report by the World Cancer Research Fund Thursday links excessive body fat to 12 types of cancers, at a time it says obesity is on the rise globally.

The report Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective examines a decade of research linking cancer prevention to diet and lifestyle, and is the third to address the subject.

The first and second reports were published in 1997 and 2007.

Thursday's report found obesity increases humans' risk of getting 12 cancers -- in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, colorectum, breast, ovary, endometrium, prostate and kidney.

The prevalence of obesity, it said, has increased at a rate faster than ever before.

"In 2016, an estimated 1.97 billion adults and over 338 million children and adolescents around the world were categorized as overweight or obese," the report states. "The increase in the proportion of adults categorized as obese has been observed both in low-and middle-income countries and in high-income countries."

The WCRF analysis makes recommendations to mitigate cancer risks, like being physically active, limiting fast food and high-fat products and and eating a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans. It also recommends limiting consumption of red and processed meats, sugar and alcohol.

The report also advises satisfying nutritional needs through diet alone, instead of counting on supplements. Scientists also recommend expecting mothers to breastfeed their children, if possible.

"It's unlikely that there are 'magic bullet' specific foods or nutrients that in themselves cause or protect against cancer," Dr. Kate Allen, WCRF executive director of science and public affairs, said in a blog post. "Rather, different patterns of diet and physical activity combine to create a metabolic state that makes you more or less susceptible to cancer.

"That's why the Cancer Prevention Recommendations work together as a blueprint to beat cancer, and they're very securely based on evidence that's now been consistent for decades."

The analysis dovetails with a new study by the Arctic University of Norway that looked specifically for the risks of obesity-related cancers.

Over 18 years of follow-up, nearly 10,000 women developed obesity-related cancers, the research found.

The study wasn't able to prove cause and effect, but noted obesity was linked to increases in postmenopausal breast cancer (20 percent) and kidney cancer (95 percent.)

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