Overweight and obesity appeared associated with an increased risk for 12 cancer types, according to World Cancer Research Fund’s new report.
The report shows strong evidence that obesity and overweight increase a person’s risk for mouth/pharynx/larynx, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, gallbladder, liver, colorectal, breast, ovarian, endometrial, prostate and kidney cancers.
Ten years ago, the World Cancer Research Fund only found evidence for associations between obesity and five cancers.
“Our research shows it’s unlikely that specific foods or nutrients are important single factors in causing or protecting against cancer,” Kate Allen, PhD, executive director of science & public affairs at the World Cancer Research Fund, said in a press release. “Rather, different patterns of diet and physical activity throughout life combine to make you more or less susceptible to cancer.”
The World Cancer Research Fund’s report, “Diet, nutrition, physical activity and cancer: A global perspective,” included studies on 17 cancers comprising 51 million people.
The report included specific evidence about the association between BMI and breast cancer risk. Obesity and overweight in adulthood appeared to increase the risk for postmenopausal breast cancer. However, higher BMI as an adult before menopause decreased the risk for premenopausal breast cancer. Higher BMI between the ages of 18 and 30 years decreased the risk for pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer.
Still, World Cancer Research Fund recommended maintaining a healthy weight throughout all stages of life.
The report also found that drinking alcohol increased risk for six cancers, including colorectal, breast, liver, pharynx/larynx, esophagus and stomach.
“We welcome the findings of this new World Cancer Research Fund report with its increased evidence around the link between alcohol and cancer,” Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said in the release. “In addition, it is clear from the evidence in the report that drinking alcohol cannot be justified for other health reasons — to prevent heart disease, for example. We hope that this new authoritative report will influence decision-makers to take positive action to address the damage caused by alcohol misuse.”
The report also included 10 cancer prevention recommendations including:
- maintain a healthy weight;
- be physically active;
- eat a diet rich in wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and beans;
- limit consumption of “fast foods” and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars;
- limit consumption of red and processed meat;
- limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks;
- limit alcohol consumption;
- do not use supplements for cancer prevention;
- mothers should breastfeed their babies, if able; and
- follow these recommendations after a cancer diagnosis, if able.
“Our cancer prevention recommendations work together as a blueprint to beat cancer that people can trust, because they are based on evidence that has now proved consistent for decades,” Allen said in the release.