Number of Cancers Linked to Obesity More Than Doubled Interview with:

Beatrice Lauby-Secretan, PhD IARC – Section IMO (International Agency for Research on Cancer) Lyon, France

Dr. Beatrice Lauby-Secretan

Beatrice Lauby-Secretan, PhD
IARC – Section IMO (International Agency for Research on Cancer)
Lyon, France What is the background for this study?

Response: The IARC Handbook of Cancer Prevention Series perform systematic reviews and evaluations of the cancer-preventive effects of interventions and strategies. The summary article published today presents the conclusions of a Working Group of experts who examined and assessed the currently available literature on the link between overweight/obesity and cancer. Thus this is not a single study, but the report on more than 1000 individual studies. What are the main findings?

Response: The main conclusion is that there are many more types of cancer linked to overweight/obesity than previously estimated. A previous evaluation, conducted by IARC in 2002, had identified five cancers for which a link could clearly be established: colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney, breast in post-menopausal women, and endometrium of the uterus. In the evaluation published today, this list is expanded to another 8 types of cancers: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Although it has been known for over a decade, many people are still not aware of the link between obesity and cancer. This link has now been reconfirmed, and extended to 13 types of cancer. The take-home message is, keeping a healthy body weight can prevent many cancers, including very common cancers such as cancer of the colon and breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Also, this risk factor (obesity) is preventable, and action can be taken at an individual level. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The IARC Handbooks do not make recommendations, either for research of for public health. However, in view of the currently available literature, there is a lack of knowledge on the beneficial effect of losing weight to reduce cancer risk. This is one area of research where additional information would be of great help to this field. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Body Fatness and Cancer — Viewpoint of the IARC Working Group
Béatrice Lauby-Secretan, Ph.D., Chiara Scoccianti, Ph.D., Dana Loomis, Ph.D., Yann Grosse, Ph.D., Franca Bianchini, Ph.D., and Kurt Straif, M.P.H., M.D., Ph.D., for the International Agency for Research on Cancer Handbook Working Group*
N Engl J Med 2016; 375:794-798August 25, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsr1606602

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Last Updated on August 25, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD