Shocking new 10 year study shows link between obesity, heart disease and cancer risks

Shocking new 10 year study shows link between obesity, heart disease and cancer risks

A huge new study led by Spanish researchers has concluded with some shocking results regarding obesity and the risks of developing heart disease and cancer.

Key Takeaways

  • Women within the obese category are 5 times more likely to suffer a cardiovascular disease, and have 12 times greater risk of developing cancer than those of normal weight.
  • Men classed as obese are twice as likely to develop some type of cancer, however do not have a significantly increased chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

The Study

FRESCO (Spanish Risk Function of Coronary and Other Events) concluded the study that observed the link between obesity and the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer.

Researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research institute and doctors from Hospital del Mar analysed the follow up of 54,446 people from 7 different communities over a 10 year period.

Only 26% of the 54,446 were considered to be a normal weight, with a BMI of 25.

 Of the men and women aged 35 to 79, 25,000 were overweight and 15,000 were obese.

The Findings

The results of the study are clear, and that is that obesity has a much greater impact on women than men.

Women are 5 times more likely to suffer some form of cardiovascular disease and have 12 times greater risk of developing cancer than those of a normal weight.

Men however, are influenced to a much lesser degree than women. Men classed as obese within this study were twice as likely to develop some sort of cancer.

Interestingly though, their chances of developing cardiovascular disease were not affected.

What the researchers are saying

Researchers are quite concerned by the results.

Dr Jaume Marrugat, a principal investigator of the study felt this research has shown that ‘the improvements in cardiovascular risk factors achieved over the last 20 years are dramatically neutralised by the obesity epidemic’.

It is already well known that being obese increases the risk of cancer and heart disease however, this study has shown that ‘any increment in body mass above recommended levels supposes a proportional increase in the risk of adverse health effects’.

This research has shown that it is not just those in the ‘obese’ category that should be concerned about the health risks; it is also those who are in the ‘overweight’ category.

Dr Albert Goday, an endocrinologist at Hospital del Mer and one of the authors of the study wants to remind people that ‘obesity is a potentially serious medical condition that determines an increased risk of death from various causes’.

However, on a more positive note those who are classed as ‘obese’ can reduce their risk of developing life threatening diseases by simply losing weight, even small weight reductions result in huge health benefits.

As an example, in a country where the average life expectancy is 80, overweight people who lose 5 kilos (11lbs) in their 40s and keep it off, reduce the risk of suffering cardiovascular disease by 20%.

For women, this could also reduce the chance of developing cancer by 20%.

Both Dr Marrguat and Dr Goday believe the obesity epidemic can be addressed by finding strategies to promote healthy diets, physical activity and more importantly modify lifestyle and eating habits.

What you can do

As mentioned by the researchers, it is becoming increasingly more important to keep an eye on your weight and try to implement new habits into your lifestyle to keep you fit and healthy!

  • A Balanced Diet. This is a no brainer! No single food provides enough nutrients or calories to stay healthy which is why it’s so important to eat a variety of foods. The recommended target profile is 50% carbohydrates, 30% fats and 20% protein throughout the day.
  • Eat your 5-a-day. Research has shown that eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help prevent heart disease and some cancers. Don’t forget your fruit and veg doesn’t have to be fresh - frozen, tinned and canned all counts!
  • Drink some water. You should really be drinking at least 2 litres of water, plain or flavoured, a day. Drinking water is important to keep your body hydrated and has also been found to improve your immune system!
  • Exercise! The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. This can be anything from a brisk walk to cycling. You’d be surprised at what activities count as exercise!
  • Try a meat-free day or two. Studies have shown that following a balanced vegetarian diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, and some forms of cancer. A vegetarian diet, if followed well,  is low in saturated fat, high in fibre and contains more vegetables (shock!). You don’t have to cut meat out completely; just try a meat free Monday once a week.

If you’re currently in the obese or overweight category you can do all of the above and begin to lose weight.

WLR encourages members to change not only their diet but their lifestyle, to adapt to a healthier way of life!


The Study - Interaction between cardiovascular risk factors and body mass index and 10-year incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer death, and overall mortality

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