Obesity-Related Cancer Is on the Rise

Although nonobesity related cancer cases are declining in the U.S., the rate of obesity-related cancer, such as multiple myleoma, may be due to an increasingly overweight population.


Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of 13 types of cancer—and those cancers account for about 40% of all cancers diagnosed in 2014, according to the CDC.

The 13 cancers are meningioma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, multiple myeloma, kidney, uterine, ovarian, thyroid, breast, liver, gallbladder, upper stomach, pancreas, and colorectal. About 630,000 people were diagnosed with 1 of those cancers in 2014; 2 in 3 cancers were in adults aged 50 to 74 years. In 2013-2014, about 2 of every 3 American adults were overweight or obese.

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Overall, the rate of new cancer cases has been on the decline since the 1990s, the report says, but increases in overweight- and obesity-related cancers “are likely slowing this progress.” Obesity-related cancers (not including colorectal cancer, which declined by 23%) increased by 7% between 2005 and 2014, while the rates of nonobesity–related cancers declined 13%.

Health care providers can help, the CDC says, by counseling patients on healthy weight and its role in cancer prevention, referring obese patients to intensive management programs and connecting patients and their families to community services that give them easier access to healthful food. The National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program ( funds cancer coalitions across the U.S., which include strategies to prevent and control overweight and obesity.

Related: The Impact of Obesity on the Recovery of Patients With Cancer

“When people ask me if there’s a cure for cancer, I say, ‘Yes, good health is the best prescription for preventing chronic diseases, including cancer,” said Lisa Richardson, MD, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. That means, she says, giving people the information they need to make healthy choices where they live, work, learn, and play.

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