The risk of developing obesity-related cancer is increasing in successive generations, along with increasing rates of obesity.
Researchers studied the incidence of 30 of the most common cancers, including 12 that are obesity related, from 1995 to 2014 in people ages 25 to 84 — more than 14.6 million cases. The study is in Lancet Public Health
Using five-year age cohorts, they found that for six of the 12 obesity-related cancers (multiple myeloma, colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, kidney and pancreatic) the risk for disease increased in adults 25 to 49, with the magnitude of the increases steeper with younger age.
For example, compared with people born in 1950, those born in 1985 had a risk of multiple myeloma 59 percent higher, and a risk of pancreatic cancer more than twice as high at comparable ages.
At the same time, incidence decreased for smoking-related and infection-related cancers. The senior author, Ahmedin Jemal, a scientist with the American Cancer Society, said that diet and exercise are of course essential in reducing obesity rates, but that interventions by health care professionals are also needed.
“Primary care physicians should regularly assess body weight,” he said. “Only a third of obese patients actually get a diagnosis of and counseling for obesity.”