Cancer deaths down, but obesity as risk factor is up

Though cancer-related deaths are down, many Latinos are still at risk. (Photo/Getty Images)

While overall cancer death rates have consistently declined since the early 1990s, Hispanics continue to be at risk due to obesity and inactivity, which are avoidable causes of cancer, according to an annual report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Several types of cancer, including colon, kidney, pancreas and breast, are directly related to being overweight, obese, and physically inactive.

“In the United States, 2 in 3 adults are overweight or obese and fewer than half get enough physical activity,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, in a statement. “Between children and youth, 1 in 3 is overweight or obese, and fewer than 1 in 4 high school students get recommended levels of physical activity. Obesity and physical inactivity are critical problems facing all states. For people who do not smoke, excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity may be among the most important risk factors for cancer.”

Nearly 40 percent of Hispanic adults are considered obese, compared to 34 percent of non-Hispanic white adults. This is due in large part to diet and lack of exercise.

In the study, obesity was most prevalent among Hispanic boys from 6 to 19 years and Hispanic women from 40 to 59 years of age. Postmenopausal Hispanic women are also at the highest risk for colorectal and uterine cancer.

While the rate of cancer deaths may go down, the number of deaths is not necessarily decreasing because the population of older Americans continues to grow.

Physicians recommend that children between six and 17 years old exercise for at least an hour each day, while adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 70 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity (or some combination) every week.

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