For Immediate Release: August 4, 2010
Contact: Mya Nelson 202-328-7744

Latest Increase in US Obesity Rate
Will Mean More Cancers, Experts Warn

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Click onimage for a full size map of
US adult obesity rates.

WASHINGTON, DC – According to just-released figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2.4 million more Americans became obese between 2007 and 2009. Approximately 26.7 percent of the US adult population, or 72.5 million people, are now obese. Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) said today that this increase may well result in a corresponding increase in the national cancer rate in years to come.

The AICR experts pointed out that those 72.5 million Americans face an increased risk for colorectal cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, endometrial cancer, pancreatic cancer and gallbladder cancer.

“Obesity plays a central role in many cancers,” said AICR Director of Research Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD. “Its links to heart disease and diabetes are well-known, but Americans need to understand that more obesity today means more cancer tomorrow.”

AICR currently estimates that excess body fat causes approximately 103,600 cases of cancer in the US every year, and warns that as the percentage of the population who are obese continues to increase, this number will rise.

The 103,600 estimate was calculated by combining projected cancer incidence for 2010 with data on the prevalence of obesity and its impact on cancer risk found in the AICR/WCRF report, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention, released last year. That report estimated the percentage of various kinds of cancer that are attributable to such risk factors as poor diet, lack of physical activity and excess body fat.

According to AICR, the estimated number of US cancers that are currently linked to excess body fat include:

Estimated Cancer Cases
Cancer Site
Cases Per Year
endometrial cancers
esophageal cancers
pancreatic cancers
kidney cancers
gallbladder cancers
breast cancers
colorectal cancers


“It’s clearer than ever that efforts to prevent obesity also help to prevent cancer,” said Higginbotham. “The need for action has never been more urgent.”


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association that operates as the umbrella organization for the network. The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (; Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (; World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (; and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (

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