Being overweight or obese as an adult increases a person’s
risk for 14 types of cancer (see Figure 6, p. 30) ( 50), and it
is estimated to have been responsible for about 481,000 of
the new cases of adult cancer diagnosed worldwide in 2012
( 51). Therefore, it is extremely concerning that in the United
States, 71 percent of adults age 20 or over are overweight or
obese ( 52), 32 percent of youth ages 2 to 19 are over weight
or obese ( 52), and more than half of U.S. adults and 73
percent of high school students do not meet the relevant
recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity (see
sidebar on Physical Activity Guidelines, p. 31) ( 20, 53).
The importance of following guidelines for leisure time
physical activity is highlighted by a recent study showing
that increasing levels of leisure time aerobic physical activity
decreased risk for developing 13 types of cancer ( 56). For
10 of these cancers, this held true regardless of body mass
index (BMI), the most common measure of whether or not a
person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.
Be as lean as possible without
becoming underweight, because
14 types of cancer have been
causally linked to being obese or
overweight (see Figure 6, p. 30).
Be physically active for at least
30 minutes every day, because
regular physical activity can
decrease risk for certain cancers.
Limit consumption of energy-dense
foods (foods high in fats and/or
added sugars and/or low in
fiber) and avoid sugary drinks,
because these contribute to weight gain.
Eat more of a variety of vegetables,
fruits, whole grains, and beans,
because these foods have a low
energy density and, therefore,
promote healthy weight.
Limit intake of red meat and avoid
processed meat (e.g., hot dogs, bacon,
and salami) because these foods can
increase risk for colorectal cancer.
If consumed at all, limit alcoholic
drinks, because alcohol consumption
can increase risk for six types of cancer:
breast, colorectal, esophageal, liver,
stomach, and mouth/throat cancers.
REDUCE YOUR RISK FOR
CANCERS LINKED TO BEING
OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE,
BEING INACTIVE, AND/OR
CONSUMING A POOR DIET
Research from the World Cancer Research Fund
International shows that about one fifth of all U.S.
cancers and one third of the most common types
of cancer diagnosed in the United States are
attributable to being overweight or obese, being
inactive, and/or eating poorly. As such, among
their recommendations are the following:
Adapted from ( 24)
Physical inactivity cost
health care systems
worldwide in 2013 ( 54).