Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 02:09 pm

Tipping the scales before the age of 40 increases your cancer risk considerably…

This is according to an international study led by the University of Bergen in Norway.

The study showed that if you were overweight before age 40, the risk of developing cancer increases by:

  • 70 per cent for endometrial cancer
  • 58 per cent for male renal-cell cancer
  • 29 per cent for male colon cancer
  • 15 per cent for all obesity-related cancers (both sexes)

“Obesity is an established risk factor for several cancers. In this study, we have focused on the degree, timing and duration of overweight and obesity in relation to cancer risk,” says Professor Tone Bjørge, at Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen.

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The study spanned 18 years

The study is based on 220 000 people from Norway, Sweden and Austria who were part of the Me-Can study.

On average, the individuals were followed for about 18 years and 27 881 individuals were diagnosed with cancer during follow-up, of which 9761 (35 percent) were obesity-related.

Obesity increases women’s risk of cancer by 48 percent

Obese participants (BMI over 30) at the first and second health examination had the highest risk of developing obesity-related cancer, compared to participants with normal BMI.

The risk increased by 64 percent for male participants and 48 percent for females,” Bjørge says.

Obesity is a global challenge and associated with increased risk of several types of cancer. The results from the study show that overweight and obese adults have an increased risk of postmenopausal breast, endometrial, renal-cell and colon cancer.

“Our key message is that preventing weight gain may be an important public health strategy to reduce the cancer risk,” says Tone Bjørge.

Source: The University of Bergen via

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What is your BMI?

Work out your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.

A healthy BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9 and a BMI of 25.0 or more is considered overweight.

BMI should not be considered for pregnant women, the elderly and children. Source:

15 – 19 October is National Obesity Week. For more articles on obesity, click here, and to learn how to lose weight, click here.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.