New WHO Study Finds Strong Link Between Obesity and Liver Cancer

While many obese people do not exercise regularly, others hire personal trainers to try and lose their excess pounds. It has long been clear that being obese is extremely unhealthy. However, a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that the situation is even more dire than previously thought.

A large new study in the UK identified a high risk of developing liver cancer for people with a high BMI, excess weight, and Type 2 diabetes. While a correlation does not always mean a cause, the strong link alarmed researchers.

The incidence of liver cancer in the US and the UK tripled in recent years making it the 6th most common form of cancer in the United States.

The researchers compared the rate of liver cancer between patients with and without obesity. They controlled for race, smoking, alcohol use, sex, and age. In summary, the results indicated that being overweight resulted in an increase in the risk for liver cancer of between 21 and 142%.

In addition, people with Type 2 diabetes—a frequent complication of obesity—were 2.61 times more likely to get cancer. The exception to the correlation with obesity was hepatitis, which increases the risk of liver cancer so strongly that it overwhelms every other cause.

The WHO reviewed more than 1,000 studies and found that obesity increased the risk of the following 13 types of cancer:

  • Blood
  • Brain
  • Breast
  • Colorectal
  • Esophageal
  • Gallbladder
  • Kidney
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Ovarian
  • Pancreatic
  • Stomach
  • Thyroid
  • Uterine

The only risk factor that appeared to be greater than obesity was smoking. The reason that obesity contributes to cancer is its likelihood of causing hormonal and metabolic abnormalities in addition to chronic inflammation.


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