Yet another reason to maintain a healthy weight as you age: cancer prevention. An international team of researchers has identified eight additional types of cancer linked to excess weight and obesity: stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovary, meningioma (a type of brain tumor), thyroid cancer and the blood cancer multiple myeloma.
Limiting weight gain over the decades could help to reduce the risk of these cancers, the data suggest.
The findings, published Aug. 25 in The New England Journal of Medicine, are based on a review of more than 1,000 studies of excess weight and cancer risk analyzed by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Cancer on Research (IARC), based in France.
Many of the newly identified cancers linked to excess weight haven't been on people's radar screens as having a weight component.
The findings could have a significant bearing on the global population. Worldwide, an estimated 640 million adults and 110 million children are obese, including one-third of adults and children in the United States.
In 2002, the same group of cancer researchers found sufficient evidence linking excess weight to higher risks of cancers of the colon, esophagus, kidney, breast and uterus.
Losing weight is hard for many people. The researchers state rather than getting discouraged and giving up, focus on avoiding more weight gain.
For most of the cancers on the newly expanded list, the researchers noted a positive dose-response relationship: the higher the body-mass index, or BMI, the greater the cancer risk.
The cancer risks associated with excess weight were similar for men and women and, when data were available, were consistent across geographic regions -- North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
There are many reasons why being overweight or obese can increase cancer risk. Excess fat leads to an overproduction of estrogen, testosterone and insulin, and promotes inflammation, all of which can drive cancer growth.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.