Of the many factors that have been associated with an increased risk of developing cancer, one of the most troubling new discoveries is a possible link between obesity and cancer. According to a study done by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), being obese can greatly increase the likelihood that you'll develop cancer. Although there are many cancers associated with obesity, some of the more prominent ones are breast, colon and ovarian cancer.

During the study, the AICR compared cancer death rates between five separate weight groups, which are differentiated by their individual body mass index (BMI) ranges. These weight groups included:

  • Healthy (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9)
  • Overweight (BMI between 25 and 29.9)
  • Obese (BMI between 30 and 34.9)
  • Very Obese (BMI between 35 and 39.9)
  • Very, Very Obese (BMI of 40 or beyond)


The cancer death rates in people classified as having a healthy weight were used as the standard in the study. In comparison to the healthy weight group, men in the very, very obese category were 52 percent more likely to develop cancer. Women in that same category were found to be even more at risk, showing a 62 percent higher chance of cancer.

The risk of developing certain cancers is seriously impacted by obesity. For example, death rates for liver cancer in very obese men are 350 percent higher than in men of healthy weight. Interestingly enough, very obese women are only 68 percent more likely to die of liver cancer than women of healthy weight. With that said, women classified as very, very obese are an astonishing 525 percent more likely to die of uterine (endometrial) cancer than women within the healthy weight range.

The AICR estimates that approximately 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with a cancer each year that they would not have gotten had they not been overweight.

That means that 14 percent of male cancer deaths and 20 percent of female cancer deaths may have been avoidable had the victim not been overweight. Most widespread, cancer-causing habits have long been identified as such. In the case of obesity, many people are unaware of its potential for cancer.
Currently, as many as 150 million people in the United States are overweight or obese.