For decades, smoking has been the leading cause of preventable cancer, but that is soon about to change.
A report published by USA Today on Wednesday showed that because people are smoking less, obesity is predicted to overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable cancer within the next two decades.
In addition, obesity has been linked to 13 different kinds of cancer. A first-time large-scale study linking obesity with cancer examined over a million participants, and resulted in findings which claim that an increase in body weight was associated with increased death rates caused by cancer.
Kristen Sullivan — director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society — said that as of now, excess body weight has been linked to 13 different kinds of cancer. She elaborated to say that this number will probably rise as research continues.
The lengthy report stated that the cancers linked to obesity included ovarian, thyroid, uterine, pancreatic, colon, and postmenopausal breast cancer.
The researchers are reportedly looking into the reasons why obesity is linked to so many cancers, and while they cannot pinpoint an exact reason, one probable culprit is belly fat.
Experts think the link could be found somewhere in the changes that take place in belly fat, or visceral adipose tissue. The report said that belly fat is more than just a stockpile of energy, explaining that it also plays an important part in the production of insulin, estrogen, proteins, and growth factors. Too much belly fat can negatively affect these processes, increasing health risks such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and elevated cholesterol levels.
Obesity has been linked to 13 different types of cancer. https://t.co/B0EySIQanF— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) April 30, 2019
Sullivan said the risks for obesity-related cancers is higher in younger people than it has been in the past.
“We don’t know exactly where the risk is coming from, but a probable explanation is that we’re starting to see the results of the obesity epidemic,” she said.
Weight loss is a key factor in lowering health risks, but exercise is also necessary for optimal health.
Dr. Cathy Jen — a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit — said that a sedentary lifestyle was “more detrimental than not being physically active.”
Sullivan echoed her statements.
“Physical activity in and of itself is an amazing thing to for your health and to reduce cancer risk, even if it doesn’t necessarily result in weight loss” she said.
In short, to reduce the risk of obesity-related cancers, it is better to live a healthy, active lifestyle.