A study published this week in JAMA Network Open shows that although obesity-related cancer deaths are falling, they are falling at a slowing pace. The study comes from researchers at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health who compared the mortality rates of cancers associated and not associated with obesity.
Cancers not associated with obesity, such as lung cancer and skin cancer, indicate a much faster decline in mortality rates compared to those from cancers associated with obesity. Meanwhile, obesity-related cancers, like stomach, colorectal, uterine, thyroid, and postmenopausal breast cancer, are declining at rates three times slower.
These findings come from mortality data for 50 million people. Study senior author Hazel B. Nichols comments: "These are cancers where we could see even larger mortality improvements with creative and practical tools to combat obesity." Nichols is associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Given that many people in the United States weigh more than medical recommendations, much of the general public is at risk for developing obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cancer. But Nichols says it doesn’t have to be like this.
“Obesity is a risk factor for many, but not all, types of cancer. We need to make maintaining a healthy weight an attainable goal for everyone in terms of safe public spaces, availability and affordability of nutritious foods, and other structural factors. The good news in that is if we're able to make these changes as a society, we will be able to improve the health of a nation."