Health Headlines: Weight loss may affect colon cancer risk

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 2:31 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Most of us know that losing weight can lower the risk of developing several serious chronic conditions. A new study is showing more about the connection between obesity, weight loss and colon cancer.

This year alone, 105,000 Americans will be told they have colon cancer. Most of these cancers start as a growth, or a polyp on the inside lining of the colon. Now researchers say there is more evidence that weight loss as an adult may have a significant impact on a person’s risk.

“Our study is one of the first to suggest a benefit of losing excess weight in helping reduce colorectal polyps, which may help reduce colorectal cancer,” said Kathryn Hughes Barry, Ph.D., a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Barry and her colleagues used data from 17,000 men and women ages 55 to 74 in the prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer screening trial.

The researchers found that for overweight or obese adults, losing just two pounds per decade decreased a person’s risk of polyps, which can develop into colorectal cancer.

“When we looked at weight loss, we found there was a 46 percent decreased risk of these polyps for people who lost weight,” Barry said.

The researchers said gaining about six pounds or more every five years was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of polyps. Barry said there are other preventative measures people can take to lower risk, including exercising regularly, eating a fiber-rich diet including whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

“Lowering intake of red meat and processed meats, like deli meat” can also help, she said.

Barry emphasized the importance of regular colorectal cancer screenings.