Obesity comorbid in half a million cancers

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Obesity attributed to half a million cancers
Obesity attributed to half a million cancers

HealthDay News -- Obesity is associated with almost 500,000 new cancer cases each year, and nearly two-thirds of obesity-related cancers occur in North American and Europe, according to a study published in The Lancet Oncology.

Excess weight was associated with 5.4% (n=345,000) of new cancers in women and 1.9% (n=136,000) of new cancers in men in 2012. Among women, postmenopausal breast, endometrial, and colon cancers accounted for nearly three-quarters of obesity-related cancers, while colon and kidney cancers accounted for more than two-thirds of obesity-related cancers in men.

Excess weight was associated with about 8% of cancers in women and 3% of cancers in men in developed nations, compared with 1.5% of cancers in women and 0.3% of cancers in men in developing nations.

The highest number of obesity-related cancers was in North America, with more than 110,000 (23% of the worldwide total), while the lowest number was in sub-Saharan Africa, with 7,300 cases (1.5% of the global total).

In Europe, there were 66,000 obesity-related cancer cases. Rates of obesity-related cancers varied widely among countries. Among men, rates were particularly high in the Czech Republic (5.5% of new cancer cases in 2012), Jordan and Argentina (4.5%), and the United Kingdom and Malta (4.4%). Among women, rates were highest in Barbados (12.7%), Czech Republic (12%), and Puerto Rico (11.6%). Rates were lowest in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, with less than 2% in men and less than 4% in women.

"Our findings add support for a global effort to address the rising trends in obesity. The global prevalence of obesity in adults has doubled since 1980,” said Melina Arnold, PhD, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France in a journal press release.

“If this trend continues, it will certainly boost the future burden of cancer, particularly in South America and North Africa, where the largest increases in the rate of obesity have been seen over the last 30 years.”


  1. Arnold M et al. Lancet Oncol. 2014; doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(14)71123-4.
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