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Higher BMI Linked to Increased Risk for Wide Array of Cancers — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
August 14, 2014

Higher BMI Linked to Increased Risk for Wide Array of Cancers

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD

Higher body mass index is associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including those of the uterus, kidney, and liver, a Lancet study finds.

Using a U.K. primary care database, researchers identified 5.2 million patients aged 16 or older with baseline BMI measurements and followed them for 7.5 years. During that time, 3% developed one of 22 cancers studied. Among the findings:

  • Each 5-unit increase in BMI was associated with large increases in risks for uterine, gallbladder, kidney, and liver cancer and smaller, albeit significant, increases in leukemia and colorectal, cervical, ovarian, pancreas, postmenopausal breast, and thyroid cancers.

  • Among those who'd never smoked, higher BMI was also associated with increased risk for stomach and esophageal cancers.

  • In contrast, higher BMI was associated with lower risk for premenopausal breast and prostate cancers.

The authors estimate that 41% of uterine cancers and over 10% of gallbladder, kidney, liver, and colon cancers might be attributable to excess weight.

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