Recent data presents a strong correlation between excess body weight and risk of colorectal cancer. John Mathers, professor of Human Nutrition, Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University, presented evidence at the 23rd United European Gastroenterology Week (UEG Week 2015) linking increased waist size to higher cancer risk. Persons classified as obese are at the greatest risk for developing colorectal cancer.

The risk of colorectal cancer was observed to be 60% higher for men who had seen a 10-cm waist circumference increase over 10 years. 

The risk of colorectal cancer for persons with Lynch Syndrome (LS) rise dramatically if they are classified as overweight, and obese persons with LS have approximately double the risk for colorectal cancer as the general population.

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Bowel cancer can be driven by inflammation, and obese persons are more prone to persistent inflammation. Prof. Mathers observed that aspirin seemed to at least partially counteract the increased colorectal cancer risk for overweight persons, perhaps due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Other anti-inflammatory agents may similarly lower the additional colorectal cancer risk caused by being overweight, but additional study is needed.


1. Spink Health. Increased risk of large bowel cancer for each 1 cm rise in waist circumference [press release]. EurekAlert! Web site. Accessed October 27, 2015.