Creeping weight ups cancer risk

For those of you who think that gaining weight is a) something that is inevitable as you get older and b) purely cosmetic — think again. We know that obesity presents a host of health risks, from heart disease and diabetes to reproductive problems and arthritis.

One of the most troubling concerns about obesity is that it increases the risk of a number of cancers — 11 to be exact. After reviewing years of research, The World Cancer Research Fund has identified 11 cancers that can be directly tied to obesity:

  • Esophageal
  • Stomach
  • Kidney
  • Gallbladder
  • Liver
  • Advanced prostate cancer
  • Ovarian
  • Endometrial
  • Pancreatic
  • Colorectal
  • Postmenopausal breast cancer

That’s one of the reasons obesity reduces life expectancy by up to 14 years.

So we know that obesity is a killer, but it turns out we haven’t been considering the whole picture of how it affects us over time.

Until now, researchers have always looked at obesity at a single point in time and used that as the basis to determine risk for cancer and other diseases. But I just came across a new study, presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference 2016 that could change how we look at weight and health risks.

The aim of the study was to see how changes in weight over time affected risk of developing obesity-related cancers. In other words, if someone has been lean their whole life and then puts on weight quickly, is that riskier than always being overweight, or steadily gaining weight over time?

What they found puts a fine point on something I’ve been telling you for years: Year-to-year weight gain adds up, and it’s detrimental to your health.

According to the study, the people who gained a substantial amount of weight during adulthood — enough to move them into another body mass index (BMI) category (from normal to overweight, or overweight to obese, for example) — seriously increase their risk of those obesity-related cancers I listed above.

For their analysis, the researchers looked at data on about 300,000 Americans. And what they found was striking.

The men in the study who went from being classified as “normal weight” to “overweight” as adults had a 50 percent greater risk of obesity-related cancers compared to those who stayed at a healthy weight.

The trend was seen in women too. For them, moving from “normal weight” to “obese” during adulthood meant 17 percent increased risk for obesity-related cancers.

So it’s not just your current weight that should concern you. It’s how your weight has changed over time. That gives you a clearer picture of your cancer risk than just looking at your BMI at a single point in time.

It makes sense if you think about it. Just think about how we look at smoking. Your doctor doesn’t just ask whether you smoke. He or she asks how much you smoke, how long you’ve smoked, or if you ever used to smoke, even if you don’t now.

That’s because we know cancer takes many years to develop. Your risk of developing cancer isn’t just based on whether you’re a smoker at a single point in time. The whole history of your use of tobacco is relevant to the discussion. Now we know it’s the same with obesity.

If your weight has been creeping up a few pounds a year, this study should give you serious pause. Those pounds are adding up to no good — literally and figuratively.

If that doesn’t get you to commit to managing your weight for a lifetime, I don’t know what will. It’s such an important issue I’m actually holding a live, online event next week, on January 15th at 1pm. It’s called the Diabetes Reversal Summit, but we’ll also be taking an in-depth look at weight and its role in your overall health and disease risk. It will also give you the information you need to take control of your metabolism, start shedding those excess pounds, and stop the “slow creep” once and for all. I urge you, please, don’t miss out on this potentially lifesaving information. Click here to reserve your spot in the Diabetes Reversal Summit now.

In the meantime, now that we are finally starting to think of obesity as a disease rather than a cosmetic problem, imagine all the ways we can intervene as soon as we see the extra pounds start to appear. I have been telling you all along that consistency — with exercise and eating — are the keys to staying healthy and aging gracefully.

If you can do this, the odds will be forever in your favor.