By Chris Adams

In the past three decades, Americans have consistently packed on the pounds, with more than a third of U.S. adults now considered obese.

And at the same time, according to Kim Robien, an associate professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, cancer is strongly linked with obesity. In fact, it “has been one of the strongest and most consistent associations with increased cancer risk that we have had,” she told National Press Foundation fellows.

“This is the reality we’re dealing with right now, and why it’s such a significant public health crisis,” she said.

To help journalists tease out that risk, Robien pointed to several key resources:

  • The World Cancer Research Fund International’s breakdown of cancers linked with greater body fat. The chart shows the increase in cancer risk, by type of cancer, as weight goes up.
  • The same group’s cancer preventability estimates, which detail the percentage of cancers that could be prevented if people were, on average, at their appropriate body weight. For the U.S., the figure for preventable cancers was 21 percent.
  • A pivotal report from 2012 by the Institute of Medicine that details the role of obesity in cancer survival; research suggests obesity can influence cancer survival and recurrence.