Weight Loss May Be Associated With A Scary Health Risk, Study Says

A lot of Americans are overweight. Accordingly, both body positivity and weight loss are important topics to stay abreast of. And it's easier than you may think because they're not really mutually exclusive and can actually be thought of in relation to one another. For example, one who fully embraces their body size and wouldn't want to change it for the world (as in, literally, for the sake of affecting the world's perception of them) may still be willing to lose (or gain) weight if they are advised by a qualified medical professional that it would benefit their health to do so. Or perhaps they love their size but make a major change to their eating habits for reasons entirely unrelated to society's standards – for example, if one decides to go vegan, or one who is vegan decides to go back to consuming animal products. Nevertheless, their change in eating habits may end up affecting their size one way or the other.

Recently, a brand new clinical study that was previewed in the American Journal of Managed Care before being presented at the annual American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in April 2022, suggests although obesity is a risk factor in a number of cancers, there may be some cancers for which losing weight can increase the risk. Further, this bears similarities to the results of a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Cancer (IJC). Let's unpack that rather startling information. 

Is it a matter of extremes?

The 2020 study published in the IJC suggests that breast cancer survivors who go on to lose more than 10% of their pre-diagnosis body weight are at higher risk of dying – from all causes. On the other hand, the same was found also for survivors who gained more than 10%. Accordingly, the study authors conclude that breast cancer "survivors should be recommended to avoid large deviations in body weight from diagnosis onwards in order to maintain health and prolong life." 

In a similar fashion, the aforementioned study that was "presented at the annual American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting" suggests that weight loss of greater than 10% increases the risk of being diagnosed with esophageal, pancreatic, lung, liver, and colorectal cancers as well as myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The data were pulled from two other studies that follow the health of a large number of both men and women in the medical profession over the decades. For these purposes, the subjects were followed from 1987 (or 1988, depending on the time of enrollment) through 2012. None were cancer survivors prior to their enrollment. In the majority of cases, weight loss fell within a two-year window before they were diagnosed with cancer.

If there's ever been an argument for tucking into that decadent dessert you've been craving ... we didn't find it in these sources. But that's not an argument against doing it.