Overweight and Cancer

The Physicians Committee

Overweight and Cancer

April 24, 2003

Today’s New England Journal of Medicine provides strong evidence confirming the link between overweight and the risk of cancer-related death. In a study of more than 900,000 adults who were free of cancer in 1982 and were followed for 16 years, excess weight was related to a 52 percent increase in risk for men and a 62 percent increase in risk for women. Particularly noteworthy were increased risks for death from cancers of the colon, breast, and prostate, among other sites. The investigators estimated that “current patterns of overweight and obesity in the United States could account for 14 percent of all deaths from cancer in men and 20 percent of those in women.”

Calle EE, Rodriguez C, Walker-Thurmond K, Thun MJ. Overweight, Obesity, and Mortality from Cancer in a Prospectively Studied Cohort of U.S. Adults. New Engl J Med. 2003;348:1625–1638.

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