Cancer Q&A: The Relationship Between Obesity and Cancer

The following information is provided by the Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge and was published by The Advocate.

QUESTION: Is there any link between obesity and cancer?

ANSWER: Research suggests that certain lifestyle behaviors and being overweight or obese may contribute to around 20 or 30 percent of cancers in America today.

It is also estimated that 14 percent of cancer deaths in men and 20 percent of cancer deaths in women can be attributed to obesity.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the exact biological link from obesity to cancer is not completely clear.

However, it is possible that obesity alters hormones and insulin production, fostering an increased susceptibility in the growth of cancer cells.

According to the NCI, studies have found links between obesity and the following cancers:

  • Breast (postmenopausal)
  • Colon
  • Endometrial
  • Esophageal
  • Kidney
  • Pancreatic

The NCI suggests the best way to lose weight is through exercise and a low-calorie diet.

According to the American Cancer Society, two out of three cancer deaths could be prevented if people quit smoking and kept a healthy body weight by eating a healthy diet and having a physically active lifestyle.

It is recommended individuals:

  • Maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
  • Adopt a physically active lifestyle.
  • Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources.
  • Limit alcohol, if you drink it at all.

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, at (225) 927-2273,, or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.


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