A study has found that postmenopausal women who are overweight for long periods in adulthood have a significantly increased risk of all cancers associated with obesity. This study is the first to look specifically at the impacts of adulthood obesity duration on cancer risk in postmenopausal women.

Researchers found that for every decade being overweight as an adult, there was an associated seven per cent increased risk of all obesity-related cancers. The risk is highest for endometrial cancer (17 per cent) and kidney cancer (16 per cent). Breast cancer risk increase was five per cent, however no significant associations were found for rectal, liver, gallbladder, pancreatic, ovarian or thyroid cancers.

The study was large, assessing over 70,000 women aged between 50 and 79. Out of the group of subjects, over 6,000 obesity-related cancers were diagnosed. About 40 per cent of the women in the study group had never been overweight in their adult lives, with 60 per cent being at some point overweight, and half being at some point obese.

Women who had ever been overweight were on average overweight for about 30 years, while those who had been obese had been so for an average of 20 years. The risk of being diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer increased for every decade being overweight. The association with cancer for those who had been obese was greater. Many of the adult population in western countries is currently overweight or obese, which is proving a significant risk for one’s health.

 

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