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Obesity Linked to 13 Types of Cancer

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Research compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have found that being overweight and/or obese are linked to at least 13 different kinds of cancer. The study looked at cancers in U.S. adults age 50-74 and found a startling divide. From 2005-2014, cancers associated with being overweight or obese rose 7% while those not associated with those conditions experienced a 13% drop.

Two out of three adults are overweight, according to the CDC, and the study found more than 630,000 Americans diagnosed with a cancer associated with overweight and obesity. And for financial professionals who work with clients struggling with weight and health issues, here’s an opportunity for discussion. According to the CDC, education can play a key role in better health and more than half of Americans don’t know that being overweight or obese can increase their risk for cancer.

“A majority of American adults weigh more than recommended – and being overweight or obese puts people at higher risk for a number of cancers – so these findings are a cause for concern,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, Director, CDC. “By getting to and keeping a healthy weight, we all can play a role in cancer prevention.”

The thirteen cancers associated with excess weight include: meningioma, thyroid, breast, liver, gallbladder, upper stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, ovaries, uterus, kidneys, multiple myeloma, and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.

One silver lining from the study: Colon and rectal cancers are down 23% during the test period due to early screening and detection of abnormal growths before they turn into cancer. However, other preventable measures, such as regular exercise and a better diet, have not been as successful.

Ignoring healthier habits has lead to a rise in U.S. premature death rates the last three years, according to a study overseen by UnitedHealth Group Inc. The premature death measure reflects the number of years of potential life lost, before age 75, per 100,000 U.S. residents. Some of that increase is related to the opioid crisis in America, according to the study, but other increases point to cardiovascular issues linked to obesity.

“As an oncologist, when people ask me if there’s a cure for cancer, I respond by saying ‘yes, good health is the best prescription for preventing chronic diseases, including cancer’,” said Lisa C. Richardson, Director, CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC). “What that means to healthcare providers like me is helping people to have easier access to healthy, affordable foods and drinks where they live, work, learn, and play.”

For many who need healthcare the most, they’re finding the road to coverage more difficult. An earlier study by the CDC found a declining use of private major medical insurance and rising uninsurance rates among middle-income Americans. The study pointed to problems within the commercial health insurance market have overwhelmed the Affordable Care Act’s ability to help middle-income people stay covered.


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