Obesity raises the risk of cancer


Obesity is strongly associated with eleven different cancers.

These are: oesophageal, multiple myeloma, stomach, colon, rectum, biliary tract, pancreas, breast, endometrium, ovary and kidney.  For many cancers there seems to be a dose response.

This was found by Kyrgiou and colleagues by studying over 95 meta-analyses from various sources.

The BMJ reports, “The unavoidable conclusion is that preventing excess adult weight gain can reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests that excess body fat in early life also has an adverse effect on the risk of cancer in adulthood. Clinicians, particularly those in primary care, can be a powerful force to lower the burden of obesity related cancers, as well as the many other chronic diseases linked to obesity such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The data are clear. The time for action is now.”

As a GP, I don’t really think that I am a “powerful force” that can turn the obesity epidemic round. It is amazing what faith the authors Yikyung Park and Graham Colditz have regarding our abilities.


Adapted from Adiposity and cancer at major anatomical sites BMJ 2017; 356:j477 and BMJ 2017;356:j908

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