August 2022

Carrying More Weight Longer Increases Colorectal Cancer Risk

If you’ve ever carried a package down a hallway, you know the feeling. At first, the load might seem relatively light. But haul it for too long, and it may eventually feel too heavy.

There’s a similar effect of extra body weight on the risk for colorectal cancer, a new study finds.

The results show the more years you spend with a higher body mass index (BMI), the greater your chances of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer later in life.

Exposure adds up

Health experts have known for a while that excess body weight increases the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis. Being overweight at any point raises your odds of developing colorectal cancer by as much as 60%.

And they know other risk factors for cancer accumulate over time. For instance, the more years you smoked, the greater your risk for lung cancer later.

These results show the dangers pile up for extra pounds, too. This could be because fat cells store extra energy, which can fuel tumors. They also secrete hormones and other compounds involved in the growth of cancer cells.

 Move more, eat better

The message is clear: The sooner you reach a healthy weight, the better for your colorectal health. Start today by:

  • Following a healthy eating plan. Eat fewer foods that are high in fat and calories, such as fried foods, cookies, ice cream, and candy. Instead, load up on colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans.

  • Being physically active. Aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate movement—that’s exercise where you can talk, but not sing—per week. Or swap in one minute of vigorous activity, where you can only speak a few words, for every minute of moderate. And limit time spent sedentary.

Also, know that even if your weight stays the same, these steps will still reduce your risk for cancer—and bring other health benefits. 





Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2022
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