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Unintended weight loss is associated with an increased risk of cancer

Unintended weight loss is associated with an increased risk of cancer



Qiaoli Wang Photo: Samuel N. Ogden

Weight loss intention was classified as “high” for those who increased their physical activity and improved their diet, “medium” if only one of the factors changed, and “low” if no changes were made in terms of diet and exercise. . In the latter group, the rate of cancer in the following year was twice as high in people who lost more than 10 percent of their body weight in the previous two years compared to those who did not lose weight.

“We can see that the risk is particularly high for upper gastrointestinal cancer, leukemia, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer, but not for breast cancer, urinary tract cancer, brain cancer or skin cancer,” says Qiaoli Wang.

You should consult a doctor in case of unintended weight loss

The study indicates that people who have recently lost weight, especially those who suffer from unintentional weight loss, should see a doctor to undergo further tests to rule out possible cancers. It is important for health care providers to take unintended weight loss into account when assessing individual cancer risk.

Intentional weight loss through more exercise or a healthier diet can be beneficial to people's health. But unintended weight loss that's not due to healthy behaviors can indicate an underlying disease, including cancer, Qiaoli Wang says.

The study was funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health (USA) and the Swedish Research Council as well as the Bob Parsons Fund. The researchers state that there is no conflict of interest.

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Diagnosed with cancer after recent weight loss“, Qiao-Li Wang, Anna Babic, Michael H. Rosenthal, Alice A. Lee, Yin Zhang, Xiuhong Zhang, Mingyang Song, Leandro F. M. Rezende, Dong-Hun Lee, Leah Beeler, Kimi Marios Giannakis, Andrew T. Chan, Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, Charles S. Fuchs, A. Heather Eliassen, Brenda M. Birmann, Meir J. Stampfer, Edward L. Giovannucci, Peter Kraft, Jonathan A. Nowak, Chen Yuan, Brian M. Wolpin, JAMA, online January 23 2024, doi: 10.1001/jama.2023.25869