IARC identifies eight additional cancer sites linked to overweight and obesity

Overweight
24 August 2016

25 August 2016 - A new evaluation carried out by the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention programme has concluded that overweight/obesity is a risk factor for more cancer sites than previously established.

In summary:

  • The absence of excess body fatness reduces the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum, oesophagus, kidney, breast in postmenopausal women, and endometrium of the uterus.
  • In addition, for middle-aged adults review showed that there is sufficient evidence that the absence of excess body fatness reduces the risk of cancers of the gastric cardia, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, ovary, and thyroid, and meningioma, and multiple myeloma. There is also limited evidence that the absence of excess body fatness reduces the risk of fatal cancer of the prostate, cancer of the breast in men, and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • The Working Group also reviewed data pertaining to body fatness in children, adolescents, and young adults (aged up to 25 years). For several cancer sites, including the colon and the liver, associations between excess body weight and cancers were observed.

This reinforces the benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight in order to reduce the risk of several different types of cancer for us all, but also underscores the urgency for policy makers to take national action for wider implementation of more effective policies that enable people to follow cancer prevention recommendations. The evidence shows that effective policies will reduce the chances of people developing cancer and other NCDs.
 
This new information is essential for health promotion campaigning, but also signals the urgency for enhanced policy coherence to ensure that commitments in agriculture, trade and education are developed such that they are aligned with health commitments to protect and promote health and for a focus on obesity reduction campaigns which take into consideration the full range of nutritional risk factors for obesity and other independent risk factors of physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol as detailed in the WHO global action on prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020.

For useful resources by UICC member and partner, the World Cancer Research Fund International, please see:

Read the official IARC press release here.

Read the IARC Q&A here.

Last update: 
Friday 7 June 2019
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