Body weight and cancer risk
Being overweight or obese is associated with a number of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Research also shows that being overweight or obese increases the risk of a number of cancers.
There is convincing evidence that overweight and obesity increases the risk of:
- Oesophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma)
- Pancreatic cancer
- Liver cancer
- Bowel cancer
- Breast cancer (postmenopausal)
- Endometrial cancer (lining of the womb or uterus)
- Kidney cancer
There is probable evidence that overweight and obesity increases the risk of:
- Mouth, pharynx (throat) and larynx cancer
- Stomach (cardia) cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Prostate (advanced) cancer
Research has also found a probable link between overweight and obesity and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. Similarly, body fatness in young adulthood has been associated with a probable reduced risk of pre and postmenopausal breast cancer.
Cancer Council WA does not recommend carrying extra body weight to confer a potential small decrease in premenopausal breast cancer risk as:
- Being overweight significantly increases the risk of breast cancer after menopause - these postmenopausal cancers are much more common in the population.
- It's difficult it is to lose weight, so it's unlikely that people would be overweight when they're young, and become lean at menopause.
- Being overweight increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and many other cancers.