New Estimates: Obesity, Overweight a Cause of 351 Cancer Cases a Day

obesity figure from infographic

New AICR estimates based on the latest incidence data show that 358,000 cases of cancers in the United States can be prevented each year if everyone were to eat a healthy diet, be physically active daily, be a healthy weight and limit alcohol. For excess body fat alone, estimates suggest 351 cancer cases a day could be prevented if everyone were to get at -- and stay -- a healthy weight.

The updates incorporate the most recent estimates of new cancer cases that will occur. That figure has nudged upwards over the past year as incidence of certain cancers has also slightly increased.

In the United States, approximately one third of the most common cancers could be prevented, the research suggests. Add smoking cessation to the list of lifestyle habits and more than half of the cancers occurring today are preventable.

Estimated Cases of US Cancers Preventable per Year
by Diet, Activity, and Weight Management

Cancer Type New Cases Percentage Prevented *Number of Cases Prevented
Breast, female 246,660 33% 81,398
Colorectal 134,490 50% 67,245
Endometrial 60,050 59% 35,430
Esophageal 16,910 63% 10,653
Gallbladder 11,420 22% 2,512
Kidney 62,700 24% 15,048
Liver 39,230 30% 11,769
Lung 224,390 36% 80,780
Mouth, Pharyngeal & Laryngeal 42,760 63% 26,939
Ovarian 22,280 5% 1,114
Pancreatic 53,070 19% 10,083
Prostate (advanced) 23,516 11% 2,587
Stomach 26,370 47% 12,394

*Estimated and rounded, based on: AICR/WRCF, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention 2009; Continuous Update Project reports; Cancer Statistics, 2016. CA Cancer J Clin 2016;66:7-30.

The updated preventability numbers draw upon the findings in AICR/WCRF’s Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention 2009 report and World Cancer Research Fund’s Continuous Update Project reports. The reports estimate the proportion of the most common cancers that could be prevented through diet, physical activity and weight management.

Excess body fat and cancer risk

Aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight is the single most important lifestyle factor to reduce cancer risk.

AICR links obesity to 10 cancers, including postmenopausal breast, colorectal and ovarian. Updated estimates show that for men: 38,600 cases of cancers link to excess body fat. These include advanced prostate cancer, colorectal and esophageal. For women, an estimated 89,600 cancer cases link to excess body fat. Obesity-related cancers for women include postmenopausal breast, ovarian and endometrial.

Obesity and Cancer Infographic 2016 320 thumbnail

Reducing the risk

During Cancer Prevention Month this February, AICR is leading a campaign to raise awareness about how individuals can reduce their cancer risk. In the United States, for example, approximately half of colon cancer cases and a third of breast cancer cases could be prevented.

For images and shareables, visit our CanPrevent campaign site here.

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    Published on February 24, 2016

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