Obesity's link to cancer risk appeared to be associated with menopause for certain tumor types. For example, postmenopausal overweight or obese women had a 40 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer, while premenopausal and overweight women had a 61 percent increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, the researchers found.
The rise in cancer risk for overweight and obese women mirrored findings reported last Wednesday by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the Britain-based World Cancer Research Fund.
In that review of 7,000 studies, researchers found a definite link between excess fat and cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, endometrium and kidneys in all women, as well as breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Reeves' team also found that, in general, overweight and obese women were more likely to die from cancer once they developed the illness compared to slimmer women. The obesity-linked increase in the rate of cancer death was similar to the increase in cancer risk, the researchers reported.
One expert said the findings highlight another reason to stay slim.
"This study adds to the considerable body of evidence that shows the relationship between overweight obesity and cancer risk," said Eugenia E. Calle, managing director of analytic epidemiology at the American Cancer Society and author of an accompanying journal editorial.
To reduce their risk of cancer, women need to stay lean, Calle said. "Women should not gain weight in adulthood and maintain a weight that puts you on the lean end of norm
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