Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark have found a 12 percent risk associated with being dangerously overweight.
The researchers in their new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that being overweight or obese increases the risk of several common cancers.
The team of researchers raised concern that the rising rates of obesity and severe obesity will increase the rates of cancers across the board, as well as take a toll on healthcare costs and see more people dying prematurely.
The team looked at cancer data in Denmark over a 40-year period, from 1977 to 2016 and found 20,706 cancers among 313,321 adults who were clinically diagnosed as being overweight or obese.
By comparison, there were 18,480 cancers diagnosed among the general Danish population over the same time period, which means that weighing above average increased the risk of all cancers by 12 percent, according to their findings.
According to the researchers, the heightened risk was the same for cancers previously identified as obesity-related, such as kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer, and for blood and neurological cancers.
Explaining reasons obesity is linked to an increase in cancer risk, the scientists found that obesity is associated with a rapid rise in the number of cells, as well as the secretion of high levels of proteins and hormones that are pro-inflammatory such as estrogen – all of which is linked to cancer.
The authors wrote in the study: “Given the increasing obesity epidemic, our findings have contributed much needed recent data on the overall burden of cancer among patients hospitalized for overweight and obesity.”
Obesity is known as a risk factor for several chronic health conditions aside from cancer including type 2 diabetes, strokes and heart attacks.
The United States health officials say that addressing the obesity epidemic will not only lead to better health outcomes but also reduce medical costs.
Meanwhile, in 2012, a study from Cornell University in New York found obesity to account for about 21 percent of total US healthcare costs, approximately $190.2 billion per year.
Obesity, however, continues to plague more than one-third of adults in the US, and experts have warned that the proportion will only grow as younger generations do.
Also, researchers from Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health predict that nearly half of all Americans will be obese by 2030.