Weight and Cancer Risk

Last Modified: March 22, 2012

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Question

I know being overweight can lead to many health problems, how is it connected with cancer?

Answer

Gloria DiLullo, MSN, CRNP, OncoLink Content Specialist, responds:

While what we eat is probably linked to cancer development, being overweight and having a diet high in fat is clearly related to the development of certain cancer types. These include breast cancer (in postmenopausal women), cancers of the colon, endometrium (uterus), esophagus, and kidney. Evidence is highly suggestive that excess weight also increases the risk of cancers of the pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix and prostate, multiple myeloma and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Body weight is evaluated using body mass index or BMI, which is your body weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters, squared. Experts define a healthy BMI to be 18.5-25 kg/m2, a BMI of 25-29.9 kg/m2 to be overweight and a BMI over 30 kg/m2 to be obese.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Cancer Risk & Prevention Webchat transcript.