The Cancer Link Obesity, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition are major risk factors for cancer, second only to tobacco use. Approximately one in three cancer deaths can be attributed to poor diet, physical inactivity, and overweight and obesity. 25.7% of New Jersey adults and 15% of New Jersey children are considered obese. The projected number of obesity related cancers in 2030 in New Jersey is 308,035. This is a sharp increase from the 110,882 obesity related cancers in 2010.
Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for several common cancers, including colon, esophageal, kidney, endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancer.
Poor nutrition and the consumption of high-calorie foods and beverages are major contributors to overweight and obesity and an increased risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society (the Society) recommends consuming a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods, in order to reduce cancer risk.
Physical Activity Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy body weight by balancing caloric intake with energy expenditure. Physical activity may also reduce the risk of breast, colon, endometrium, and advanced prostate cancer, independent of body weight. The Society recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week and that children and adolescents engage in at least 1 hour of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day. Physical activity may often also be beneficial after a cancer diagnosis, reducing the risk of recurrence or death.
Combating the Problem Despite the evidence linking overweight and obesity, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity to increased cancer risk, the majority of Americans are not meeting recommended nutrition and physical activity targets. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN) advocacy work on obesity, nutrition, and physical activity is focused on creating social and physical environments that support healthy, active lifestyles.