7 in 10 Endometrial Cancers Don’t Have to Happen
Endometrial cancer is a disease of the uterus’ inner lining. The cancer strikes approximately 47,000 women in the United States each year and kills 8,000, according to the National Cancer Institute. But AICR estimates that an overwhelming majority of endometrial cancers – 70 percent, or almost 33,000 cases a year – are caused by carrying excess body fat and a lack of physical activity.
According to the AICR/WCRF report, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention, this gives endometrial cancer the distinction of being one of the world’s most preventable cancers (along with cancers of the skin and lung).
To Reduce Your Risk of Endometrial Cancer
- Get to and stay a healthy weight: Excess body fat links to increased risk of this cancer, along with six other cancers
- Keep your belly flat: Too much abdominal fat, independent of weight, increases the risk
- Be active: AICR recommends at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity to lower risk.
Carrying excess body fat produces a hormonal environment high in insulin, insulin-like growth factors and estrogens that may make cancer more likely, and contributes to a level of chronic inflammation that may encourage cancer growth as well, according to AICR. Research suggests that regular physical activity helps regulate hormone levels and reduce inflammation.
“The science is clear and convincing,” said AICR’s Alice Bender, MS, RD. “Staying lean, avoiding the build-up of abdominal fat, and being active every day are powerfully protective against endometrial cancer.”
There is currently insufficient evidence to conclude that other, less-common gynecological cancers – such as those of the ovary and cervix – are linked to lifestyle factors, such as weight and physical activity.
The major risk factors of ovarian cancer are age, reproductive history and family history; the major risk factors for cervical cancer are the human papilloma virus (HPV), smoking and family history. Regular pap tests and the HPV vaccine can lower risk for cervical cancer.