Questions and answers
14 December 2020
EVIDENCE LINKING OBESITY AND CANCER
Dr Edward L. GiovannucciProfessor of Nutrition and Epidemiology
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, USA
Excess body weight has been linked to a higher risk of 13 types of cancer. About 8% of all cancers in the USA have been attributed to having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 kg/ m2 (overweight and obese). In non-smokers, approximately 20% of cancers are attributable to excess adiposity. In the USA, most obesity-related cancers have been increasing in people younger than 50 years, alongside increasing rates of obesity. Mechanisms that underlie this include increases in estrogens, insulin and related growth-promoting hormones, and inflammation. Improved diet, more physical activity, and maintaining a normal body weight can help reduce the burden of cancer worldwide.
STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT CHANGES IN BODY SIZE – INDIVIDUAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH PERSPECTIVES
Dr Annie S. AndersonProfessor of Public Health Nutrition
University of Dundee, Scotland
Actions at the policy level potentially offer equitable approaches to assist the population to achieve desirable changes in weight-related behaviours. There are many parallels with tobacco control that offer an evidence-based route for action related to reduced caloric consumption. While we wait for governments to implement such policies, globally more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight or living with obesity and increased cancer risk. Weight management support, beyond education and awareness-raising, is limited and deserves further investment both in practice and in research.
Dr Marc GunterHead of the Section of Nutrition and Metabolism
International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France