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  • Writer's pictureWomen's Cancer Research Foundation

Obesity and Cancer Death Among White and Black Adults

In the United States, Black men and women born in 1980 have a life expectancy that is 6.9 and 5.6 years shorter than White men and women born that same year. Black adults have a higher prevalence of obesity, but the extent to which differences in obesity explain differences in life expectancy remains unclear. Also, while obesity increases the risk of death from some cancers in men and women, it is currently unknown whether obesity similarly increases this risk for both White and Black adults.

In a recent study published in the journal Obesity, 18,296 adults were evaluated in terms of any association between obesity and cancer death. The primary outcome was the time from enrollment to death attributable to any cancer. The secondary outcome was death attributable to obesity- related cancer. During a follow- up of 14.3 years, 346 cancer deaths occurred. In this prospective study involving White and Black adults, race and sex directly affected the association between obesity and cancer death.

Obesity increased the risk of cancer death in White men but reduced the risk of cancer death in Black men. Obesity also increased the risk of cancer death in White women but did not influence the risk of cancer death in Black women. Hopefully, this study will inform us about interventions and policies that can reduce disparities in cancer death amongst White and Black Adults.

About Women’s Cancer Research Foundation The Women’s Cancer Research Foundation (WCRF) is one of Southern California’s and the nation’s most active research organizations for female cancers. We are dedicated to serving the interests of patients, families, and friends affected by women’s cancers. WCRF partners with physician-scientists nationally to make differences in women’s lives by offering hope, strength, and progress.

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