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  • Rates of Cancer Associated With Overweight and Obesity Register Significant Increases from 2005 to 2015, Says CDC

    America's obesity and overweight problem is also a cancer problem. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US has witnessed a 7% increase in overweight- and obesity-related cancers (other than colorectal cancer) over 10 years, with some types of overweight- and obesity-related cancer rates increasing from 26% to 40%.

    The findings appear in an October 3 CDC report on a study of data from the United States Cancer Statistics (USCS) data set between 2005 and 2014. Researchers tracked incidence rates for 13 types of cancer associated with overweight and obesity: cancers of the esophagus, breast, endometrium, gallbladder, gastric cardia, kidney, liver, ovary, pancreas, thyroid, meningioma, plasma cells (myeloma), and colon/rectum. Researchers looked at overall rates as well as rates by age, sex, and race/ethnicity. Here's what they found:

    • Overall, the overweight/obesity-related (OOR) cancer rate declined by 2% between 2005 and 2014, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Researchers believe that the overall decrease was largely driven by a 23% decline in colorectal cancers, which have a high rate to begin with. Authors think that more widespread detection and removal of precancerous polyps are responsible for the drop in that cancer type.
    • When colorectal cancer is excluded from the data, OOR cancer rates show a 7% increase between 2005 and 2014, with thyroid cancer rates increasing by 40% and liver cancer rates increasing by 29%.
    • Besides the decline in rates for colorectal cancer, a few other cancers showed declines during the study period, including ovarian cancer (16% drop), and meningioma (29% drop); however, these declines weren't enough to offset the overall increase.
    • OOR cancers accounted for 40% of all cancers diagnosed in 2014.
    • OOR cancers accounted for 55% of cancers diagnosed in women and 24% of cancers diagnosed in men in 2014.
    • OOR cancer rates were higher among non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites compared with other groups.

    Authors believe that growing rates of obesity and overweight in the US—now estimated at about 1 in 3 Americans—threatens to overwhelm efforts to reduce overall cancer rates, and that more needs to be done to promote healthy diet and increased physical activity.

    "Without intensified nationwide efforts to prevent and treat overweight and obesity, the high prevalence of excess weight might impede further declines in overall cancer incidence," authors write. "These efforts include investing in addressing both social and behavioral determinants of health."

    Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.