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Study Shows Obesity To Blame For Rise In Non-Communicable Disease Cases Worldwide

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's more bad news coming out about the worldwide obesity epidemic; it's leading to an increase in cancer cases and diabetes diagnoses.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported, there's an international push to get the world to lose weight.

Non-communicable, or chronic, diseases kill 40 million people each year worldwide. That includes cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, all directly linked to obesity by a first of its kind study.

Diabetes and having a high body mass index, or BMI, cause nearly 6 percent of cancers nationwide according to a new study in the Lancet which also attributes 800,000 cancer cases each year to overweight, obesity, and diabetes.

"Fat increases estrogen that's circulating in the bloodstream, which increases the risk of that being utilized by the cancer to grow," Dr. Roshni Rao from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Fat cells also increase inflammation in the body, which doctors now believe contributes to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes and obesity affect sugar levels, which also increases inflammation and hormone levels which can increase cancer risk.

The new study looked at data in 175 countries and linked diabetes and obesity to 18 cancers with liver, breast, and endometrial and colorectal cancer accounting for the most cases.

It all means the number of cancer cases related to diabetes and high BMI is likely to keep increasing unless people around the world start getting healthy.

"We must take big, big structural and innovative approaches to prevent obesity and diabetes," the study's author, Dr. Jonathan Pearson, said. "We have got a long way to go on that, specifically tackling poor diet."

That's why the World Health Organization has made non-communicable diseases, and especially their link to obesity, a Campaign for Action, with the goal to reduce premature deaths from cancers, heart and lung diseases, and diabetes by 25 percent by 2025.

It will require improved diets, including reduced sugar intake and more physical activity. With more than two billion people around the world overweight and about 420 million of them diabetic, researchers say it's time to get healthy now.

Two other elements to reducing the unnecessary deaths include reduction in tobacco and alcohol consumption, both of which are higher in low and middle income countries which have the largest increases in cancer risk.

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