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Cancer associated with excess body weight varies greatly by state

Cancer associated with excess body weight varies greatly by state. Researchers from the American Cancer Society have discovered that the proportion of cancers related to excess body weight varies greatly from state to state. For example, 8.3% of cancer cases in the District of Columbia can be attributed to excess body weight compared to 5.9% excess weight-related cancer cases in Hawaii. This new information is telling of obesity rates among the 50 states and District of Columbia.

Farhad Islami, M.D., Ph.D., Scientific Director, Surveillance Research, and the research team calculated the population attributable fraction (PAF) of cancer cases related to excess body weight among 30-year-old adults in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, between 2011 and 2015.

Their findings, published in JAMA Oncology, show a 1.5-fold difference in both men and women between states with the highest and lowest number of excess weight-caused cancers.

Excess weight is currently believed to be the cause of 13 different types of cancer. Although obesity rates of the U.S. are well known, the stats of obesity-related cancers have yet to be properly investigated until now. Knowing said information could help set forth effective cancer initiatives.

Islami and colleagues discovered that the population attributable fraction (PAF) for men in the U.S. spanned from 3.9% in Montana to 6.0% in Texas. And for women, the PAF was almost double that of men with 7.1% in Hawaii to 11.4% in the District of Columbia. And of course, this number shifted in severity depending on the weight-related cancer. Endometrial cancer, for example, showed a PAF that ranged from 36.5% in Hawaii to 54.9% in Mississippi. Furthermore, endometrial cancer had a PAF of 50.0% or more in 19 states.  

“The proportion of cancers attributable to [excess body weight] varies among states, but [excess body weight] accounts for at least 1 in 17 of all incident cancers in each state,” Islami and the study’s authors write. “Broad implementation of known community- and individual-level interventions is needed to reduce access to and marketing of unhealthy foods (eg, through a tax on sugary drinks) and to promote and increase access to healthy foods and physical activity, as well as preventive care.”

By Olivia Harvey, Staff Writer

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