Reduce cancer risk by reducing excess weight

  •   Excess body weight increases the risk of developing and dying from many types of cancer.
  • About one in three cancer deaths in the U.S. is related to nutrition and physical activity, with obesity as a major factor.
  •   Two out of three Americans are overweight or obese.
  •   Evidence suggests that a diet low in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and high in red and processed meats can increase the risk of several of the most common cancers.
  •   Avoiding weight gain has clear benefits for reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Public policy efforts aimed at obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition offer a critical opportunity for disease prevention, particularly among children.  The Society is working in partnership with other organizations to improve nutrition and increase physical activity in schools and remove barriers to healthy lifestyles in communities.
  •   The American Cancer Society recommends a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein and limited consumption of processed and red meats and alcohol.
  • Balancing caloric intake with physical activity plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight.
  •   The Society recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 or more days/week; 45-60 minutes is preferable.
  • For tips on staying healthy, visit
  • Overweight and obesity are clearly associated with increased risk for developing many cancers, including cancer of the breast (postmenopausal), colon, endometrium, esophagus, and kidney.
  • Observational studies show that obesity also increases the risk for cancers of the pancreas, gallbladder, thyroid, ovary, and cervix, and for multiple myeloma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and aggressive prostate cancer.
  • The link between body weight and cancer risk is believed to stem from multiple effects on fat and sugar metabolism, immune function, level of hormones (including insulin and estradiol), and cell growth.
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