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Women Who Are Overweight Longer May Have Increased Risk of Cancer

Previous studies have linked obesity with certain types of cancers, but the cumulative effect of being overweight on the risk of cancer was not well researched. Now a first of its kind study has found that being overweight or obese for a longer period as an adult may increase the risk of developing cancer for women.


Participants in the study included close to 74,000 women who took part in the United States Women’s Health Initiative. During the 12.6 mean years of follow-up, over 6,000 cancers were diagnosed.


After examining the data and controlling for physical activity, diet, smoking, hormone use, and diabetes, the researchers found that every ten year increase in overweight duration during adulthood was associated with a 7% increased risk of developing an obesity-related cancer, a 5% increased risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer, and a 17% risk of developing endometrial cancer. When the researchers adjusted for the intensity of overweight, the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer rose to 8% and to 37% for endometrial cancer.


Researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer conducted the study. It was published on August 16, 2016, in PLOS Medicine.


Obesity has far ranging negative effect on health. Each year, obesity causes approximately 300,000 premature deaths in the United States. The negative health effects associated with obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea.


Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity. It is recommended that we eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It also recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day.

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