The rate of overall cancer deaths in the U.S. dropped, but a new report highlights a dangerous link between obesity levels and certain cancers. The good news for men is that the rates of death for prostate and lung cancers continued to fall. Better health screening and efforts to change behaviors, like smoking, are having a positive effect. Along with the drop in cancer-related deaths, the number of new cases of cancer has decreased by half a percent each year since 1999. The report, a joint effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others, highlighted two areas of concern. The rate of skin cancer deaths and cases grew, most likely due to an increased use of tanning beds. An even larger impact, however, will be seen with the obesity epidemic. The report found that the death rate for cancers related to obesity—such as those of the pancreas and uterus—increased. In addition, the number of new cases for certain obesity-related cancers also grew, including kidney, esophageal, and pancreatic. Currently, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. These conditions, along with inactivity and poor diet, are second only to tobacco as preventable causes of disease and death. A large part of the fight against obesity-related cancers will involve encouraging people to adopt more healthy lifestyles, including eating healthy and getting adequate exercise.
Obesity and tanning, however, add to new cancer cases.