Weight Loss to Lower Cancer Risk

Posted: Jul 20 in Medical Weight Loss News by

A study published June 3rd in JAMA found that weight loss lowers cancer risk.

In this study of over 30,000 people with a Body Mass Index of 35 or more, those who lost a lot of weight (around 20% / 50 pounds) had not only a lower cancer risk (32% risk reduction), but also a dramatically reduced risk of dying from cancer (43% risk reduction) after a 10-year observation period.

Currently, cancer is the second leading cause of death in America, affecting over 600,000 people per year. We have long known that obesity contributes to at least 13 forms of cancer – including female cancers (breast, ovary, uterus), gastrointestinal (liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, colon, rectum), kidneys, meningioma, multiple myeloma and thyroid. While we have long speculated that weight loss reduces cancer risk, this is the first study I have seen that shows this conclusively.

How did people lose 50 pounds? This was a surgical study – patients had bariatric surgery; however, it is reasonable to conclude that losing weight through non-surgical means would yield a similar result. While losing 50 pounds may seem daunting, it can be achieved through healthy eating, increasing physical activity, intensive lifestyle intervention, and pharmacotherapy (weight loss medications).

It is also important to note that one did not need to achieve a “Normal” BMI for the improvements in cancer risk – a percentage reduction in weight improved health outcomes regardless of the achieved BMI.

So, what is the take-home message? Working on healthy habits now can give you long-term health benefits including lowering your risk of getting or dying from cancer. And, if your BMI is above 35 and we are not able to achieve weight loss with a medical approach, we should consider more aggressive means to achieve weight loss to protect your health.

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