Diet and Weight Loss: Do Extra Pounds Lead to Cancer?

Excess weight may increase the risk of more cancers than previously thought, says the largest study to look.

Researchers tracked 5.24 million people for an average of 7½ years. The results:

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• Heavier people had a higher risk of leukemia as well as cervical, colon, gallbladder, kidney, liver, ovarian, uterine, and postmenopausal breast cancers than leaner people.

• Heavier people had a higher risk of esophageal cancer (after researchers took smoking into account).

• Heavier people had a lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer and total prostate cancer. (The study didn’t look separately at advanced prostate cancers, which were linked to excess weight in other studies.)

• Underweight people had a higher risk of lung, mouth, and throat cancer than leaner people, but the link was due to smoking, since it was absent in those who had never smoked.

What to do: To lose or avoid gaining weight: exercise, drink calorie-free beverages, and don’t overeat.

Source: Lancet 384: 755, 2014.

 

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