Preventability for Body Fatness

The analyses of research in the Continuous Update Project reports identify excess weight as a major independent risk factor for cancer. This chart includes cancers where there is strong evidence that excess weight increases cancer risk. 

Estimated Cases of US Cancers Preventable per Year by Staying Lean

Cancer Type % link to excess
body fat: MEN
% link to excess
body fat: WOMEN
Cases Prevented Annually
Breast (postmenopausal) 13%  34,596
Colorectal 17% 15% 21,038
Endometrial 50% 31,615
Esophageal (adenocarcinoma) 25% 12% 2,075
Gallbladder 11% 28% 3,413
Kidney 20% 28% 18,295
Liver 27% 28% 11,822
Ovarian 5% 1,112
Pancreatic 17% 20% 11,088
Prostate (advanced) 11% 2,355
Stomach (cardia) 9% 7% 1,837
TOTAL 21% 21%  

*Rounded, based on AICR/WRCF, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention; Continuous Update Project reports; American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2018


Preventability estimates are important to help policy-makers assess the impact of different approaches to reduce cancer risk.

AICR/WCRF preventability estimates are calculated using information on:

  • Cancer risk associated with body fatness
  • Prevalence of overweight and obesity
  • US incidence of different cancers

The methods used to calculate the estimates can be found in Appendix A of the Policy Report.

These preventability figures are estimates; they are not precise values. They are likely underestimates, as only those cancers judged to have convincing or probable links to lifestyle factors are included.