Obesity and Diabetes Cause 800,000 Cases of Cancer a Year, Study Finds

Obesity and Diabetes Cause 800,000 Cases of Cancer a Year, Study Finds

New research out of Imperial College London points to a high body mass index (BMI) and type-2 diabetes as the sources of nearly six percent of all cancers across the globe — nearly 800,000 cases of cancer a year, according to the researchers.

The research, published in the recent issue of the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, found that higher BMIs and type-2 diabetes were particularly prevalent among cancer cases in Western countries.

It’s the first research to link diabetes to increased risk of cancer.

“While obesity has been associated with cancer for some time, the link between diabetes and cancer has only been established quite recently,” lead researcher, Dr. Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard, BMBCh, Imperial College London, United Kingdom, said in a statement. “Our study shows that diabetes, either on its own or combined with being overweight, is responsible for hundreds of thousands of cancer cases each year across the world.” 

Globally, more than 400 million adults suffer from diabetes and more than 2 billion people — nearly one-third of the planet’s population– are overweight or obese. Diets high in processed foods such as sugary beverages as well as meat and dairy products, especially processed meats such as bacon, have been linked to increased risks of certain types of cancer.

The researchers encourage the world’s leading health organizations to increase efforts to promote healthy dietary habits and efforts to reduce obesity and diabetes. Rates of obesity and diabetes continue to climb among children, particularly in the U.S., despite recent efforts in the U.S. like prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables.

A plant-based vegan diet has been linked to decreased risks of developing certain cancers, as well as maintaining a healthy BMI. And some experts have even recommended a vegan diet as part of a successful cancer treatment program. London Irish rugby star Darren Dawidiuk recently told BBC Sport his doctors and coaches encouraged him to stay on a vegan diet during his cancer battle.