Most of us have heard some of the health risks associated with being overweight, but did you know that there may be a link between weight and cancer risk? According to the American Cancer Society, being overweight can increase a person’s risk of developing certain types of this potentially deadly disease.1 Read on as we discuss the potential link between weight and cancer – and ways you may be able to mitigate your risk.
The Link Between Weight and Cancer
It’s an astounding fact, but the average American’s risk of developing cancer is 1 in 3 during his or her lifetime.2 While numerous factors affect a person’s risk, studies have shown a link between being overweight and developing certain types of cancer.3 Research from the American Cancer Society suggests that 8% of all cancers in the United States are due to excess body weight.3
The type of cancers linked to being overweight range from breast cancer in postmenopausal women, colon and rectal cancer, to esophageal cancer, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer – just to name a few.4 Excess body weight may also be responsible for other cancers including cervix, liver, ovary, and prostate.3
The risk of many of these cancers may also increase when a person has excess abdominal fat, regardless of their body weight.3 Additionally, it’s also believed that being overweight as a child or young adult can make a person more likely to develop certain cancers than someone who gained weight later in life.3
Although there is a clear correlation between weight and cancer, researchers and physicians still don’t fully understand the exact reasons, due to the complexity of the disease. Some theories are that excess body fat might affect immune function, inflammation, levels of insulin and hormones, such as estrogen. Scientists are still conducting extensive research to obtain a better understanding.
Can Losing Weight Reduce Your Cancer Risk?
While all this information can be overwhelming, research suggests that you may be able to take steps to reduce your cancer risk.5
Not only can losing weight improve other measures of health and wellness, but it may also help lower your risk of developing certain cancers. For example, while research is limited, there have been findings that show weight loss might reduce the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and aggressive types of prostate cancer.6
A study of 36,000 women found that postmenopausal women who intentionally lost weight had a much lower rate of endometrial cancer up to 11 years later when compared to women who did not lose weight. What’s even more interesting – they didn’t have to lose an exorbitant amount of weight to reap the rewards – those who intentionally lost 5% or more of their body weight had a 29% lower risk of developing endometrial cancer.7
The study on endometrial cancer also provided additional information about a potential causal link between weight and cancer. The researchers suggested that excess body fat likely boosts the amount of estrogen that a woman’s body produces, potentially increasing the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers.7 The same study also suggested it’s never too late to lose weight in order to reduce your risk of developing the disease – a powerful message to anyone putting off their health and wellness goals.
If you’re looking to lose weight, here are some tips to get started:
1. Commit to a Plan
The first and most important step to losing weight is deciding to start. By setting weight loss goals that are measurable and attainable, you’ll be more likely to stay on track. Keep in mind that losing just 5% of your body weight can reduce your cancer risk.7
2. Sync Up with Your Circadian Rhythm
You likely know how important making healthy food choices and exercising is to lose weight, but did you know that when you eat may be just as important as what you eat? Eating in sync with your circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s internal clock, could help accelerate your weight loss.8
Not only could eating with your body’s natural rhythm help aid your weight loss goals, but one study also found a potential reduction in developing certain types of cancer by following a daytime nutrition strategy, such as time-restricted feeding, because of the reduction in blood glucose levels.9-11 Another study also suggests there could be a reduction in inflammation and therefore a subsequent reduction of breast cancer risk by consuming the majority of your calories during daylight hours.11
3. Try a Science-Backed Program to Kick Start Your Success
Jenny Craig’s newest program, Rapid Results, is based on the science behind circadian rhythm. The plan divides the day into a 12-hour nourishment period and a 12-hour rejuvenation period. During the nourishment period, you eat six times, choosing from nutritionist-designed and chef-crafted meals. During the rejuvenation period, which includes sleep, your body’s cells can adequately repair and regenerate, preparing for the next day.
Do you want to see how working with your natural circadian rhythm may help you lose weight and potentially see health benefits beyond weight loss? Contact Jenny Craig for your free appointment.
 Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 6, 14 June 2016, pp. 1048–1059., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001.
Edited by Elisa - Jenny Craig