Extra pounds may boost the risk of more cancers than previously thought, says the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

In 2002, IARC concluded that there was “sufficient” evidence that excess weight increased the risk of five cancers: colon, uterus, esophagus, kidney, and breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Now the list includes eight more cancers: stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, ovary, thyroid, multiple myeloma (cancer of white blood cells in the bone marrow), and meningioma (cancer of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord). Excess body fat had the biggest impact on the risk of esophageal and uterine cancers. But when it comes to cancers like breast and colon, where we already had a high risk, even a small increase matters.

Excess weight may lead to cancer by altering sex hormones, causing chronic inflammation, and raising insulin levels, suggest (IARC).

What to do:  Lose excess weight if you can. And, unless you’re too thin, watch what you eat so you don’t gain more.

Source: Nutrition Action Health Letter November 2016  N. Engl.  J. Med, 375: 794,2016