Having analyzed data from the US Cancer Statistics database, researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the rates of cancers classified as being linked to excess weight increased by 7 percent between 2005 and 2014, with the important exception of colorectal cancer. In the same period, diagnoses of non-obesity-related cancers dropped by 13 percent.
"Our report found an increase in a number of types of cancers associated with obesity and overweight, at a period when the prevalence of obesity and overweight has increased substantially in the middle ages," Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the CDC, said in the Vital Signs report. "The prevalence of obesity and overweight is starting to show up in our cancer statistics."
More than 630,000 US citizens — about 40 percent — were diagnosed with a cancer associated with excess weight in 2014. About two in three occurred in Boomer-generation adults 50 to 74 years of age.
The new findings are especially disturbing given that the rate of Americans who are considered overweight or obese has steadily climbed since the mid-20th century and now stands at two out of three, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
"A majority of American adults weigh more than recommended — and being overweight or obese puts people at higher risk for a number of cancers — so these findings are a cause for concern," said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD. "By getting to and keeping a healthy weight, we all can play a role in cancer prevention."
Unfortunately, the researchers say they haven't yet determined whether the mechanisms that are turned on by excess weight can be turned off after a person gets thinner. But they assert that leading a healthy lifestyle is always the best precautionary measure.