Increasing Waistlines and Cancer Risk

Americans’ waistlines are widening, finds a new study, even as our weight appears to be holding steady. The findings are important for cancer risk — along with other diseases — because while obesity is a clear cause of cancers, abdominal obesity may also independently increase risk.canstockphoto17693287

The study, published in JAMA, found that Americans’ average waist circumference increased progressively slightly more than an inch from 1999 to 2012. During those years, waists bumped up from 37.6 to 38.8 inches.

Prevalence also increased, with over half of Americans now having abdominal obesity. Prevalence rose from 46 percent in 1999 to 54 percent in 2012, among both men and women.

The study included 32,816 participants who were part of multiple national surveys from 1999-2000 to 2011-2012. Previous analyses of data from the same surveys show that obesity did not change much from 2003 to 2012, the authors write. Continue reading


Report: Half of Cancer Deaths Can Be Prevented

More than half of the estimated cancer deaths projected to occur in the United States this year are related to preventable causes, states a major report on cancer research released yesterday by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Source: AACR Cancer Progress Report 2014.

Source: AACR Cancer Progress Report 2014.

AACR’s fourth Cancer Progress Report focuses on diagnosis and treatment, but a significant part of the report highlights the research in prevention, using World Cancer Research Fund and AICR findings, along with other data.

Here at AICR, we focus on how diet, foods, weight and activity link to cancer risk. With changes to those lifestyle factors, AICR estimates that approximately one of every three cancer cases are preventable.

Using data that includes vaccines, sun exposure, smoking and other facts, the AACR report says that more than 50 percent of the 585,720 cancer deaths expected to occur in the United States in 2014 will be related to preventable causes.

Knowing that so many thousands of cancers are preventable is far beyond what research knew only a few decades ago. The report also has a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much, unless you do what’s right.”

For strategies and more information on how lifestyle factors relate to each cancer site, visit our new site on prevention.


Obesity Report: How Does Your State Rank?

Mississippi and West Virginia top the state rankings for adult obesity with Colorado again at the bottom, according to the new annual report on obesity that gives just a hint of positive news in another year of rising rates.

Click on image to see how your state ranks.

Click on image to see how your state ranks.

For cancer risk, the state of obesity is a major concern. Aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight is the single biggest lifestyle factor related to cancer risk. AICR estimates that overweight and obesity increase risk of 8 cancer types.

The State of Obesity is the 11th annual report on obesity rates from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (The report was formerly called F as in Fat.) For each state, the report looks at obesity-related cancers as well as heart disease and other health disorders related to obesity. You can also see each state’s policies on issues related to obesity.

Overall, the news is not good: Every state in our country has over one in five people obese; in 43 states, the rates are one in four. Adult obesity rates increased in six states over the past year, and did not decrease in any. More than one in ten children become obese at ages 2 to 5. As of the last available data, 2011-2012, nearly one out of three children and teens are overweight or obese.

The report also found many disparities, with obesity rates highest in the South and among Blacks, Latinos and lower-income, less-educated Americans. A special report on disparities found that almost half of African Americans, 43 percent of Latinos, 33 percent of Whites and 11 percent of Asian Americans were obese.

Here’s the positive: After decades of rising obesity rates among adults, the rate of increase is beginning to slow, according to the report. And national childhood obesity rate has remained stable.

The report issues high-priority recommendations, such as focusing on healthy food financing and improving nutrition and activity in schools and child care settings.

You can see how your state ranks and its obesity-related policies on their interactive site.