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Verywell Health: Why Obesity Is Linked to Higher Cancer Rates in Young People

Verywell Health recently interviewed Stephen Freedland, MD, professor of Urology at Cedars-Sinai and director of the Center for Integrated Research in Cancer and Lifestyle at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, about the potential connection between rising rates of obesity in the U.S. and an increase in cancer among young adults.

In 2020, 41% of U.S. adults between 20 and 44 were experiencing obesity—having excessive body fat that can cause serious health problems—a significant increase from 2009, when 33% of adults experienced obesity. Scientific research suggests that obesity may increase the incidence rate of certain cancers, such as breast, colorectal and prostate cancer, in young adults—people who are too young for routine cancer screenings. 

Freedland told Verywell Health that multiple factors may lead to some cancers, such as prostate cancer, which progresses unnoticed until it’s harder to treat.

“As we get more and more obese as a country, we’re probably missing some prostate cancers, but it’s causing more prostate cancer deaths,” said Freedland, the Warschaw, Robertson, Law Families Chair in Prostate Cancer at Cedars-Sinai Cancer.

Freedland told Verywell Health that it can be challenging for investigators to fully understand how obesity affects cancer risk in young people and how it may affect them as they age. 

“I don’t want to say weight loss is not beneficial—I absolutely think it is,” Freedland told Verywell Health. “We just don’t have the clear evidence. There are a lot of questions to answer.”

Click here to read the complete article in Verywell Health.