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Obesity-Related Cancers Increase While Others Fall

Tobyotter, Flickr

New report findings from the CDC had both good news and bad. The good news? Cancer deaths are falling. The bad news? Cancers associated with obesity are on the rise.

According to data from four major national cancer tracking groups, cancer death rates declined by an average of 1.7 percent per year for men, 1.3 percent per year for women and 1.5 percent annually for children between 1999 and 2008. New cases of cancer also fell.

That said, cancers associated with excess body weight, like pancreatic, kidney and esophagus cancers, are increasing. Some studies indicate that as many as 40 percent of such cancers are linked to obesity. What’s more, lack of physical activity could increase the risk of colon cancer and postmenopausal breast and uterine cancers.

“Everybody knows obesity and inactivity can put people at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and many other chronic diseases, but for the most part people don’t know that they can cause cancer,” says Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH, who directs the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at the CDC.

Rachel Ballard-Barbash, MD, MPH, of the National Cancer Institute, says that among non-smokers, obesity and inactivity are among the highest and most modifiable risk factors for cancer, and that promoting changes in communities that would help people eat better and exercise more could have a significant impact on the problem.


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