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The #1 Reason You Should Slim Down Now, Says Science

Crunching data on over 24 million people, scientists offer yet another reason to start losing excess weight.
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Doctors have long recognized that obesity is linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. That includes thyroid cancer, as several recent studies have confirmed. What has not been so clear is whether you can reverse that risk by losing the excess weight.

Now, a study published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Oral Oncology offers hope: Losing weight can help prevent thyroid cancer. (Related: 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.)

Previous studies have suggested that weight loss can help reduce the risk of obesity-related cancers. Thyroid cancer is obesity-related, but the association between weight loss and thyroid cancer, in particular, had not yet been established. Although a 2019 study out of Korea suggested such an association might exist, the conclusion reached was that more research was necessary.

Recognizing that an abundance of existing research on the topic already existed, a team of scientists led by Emad Kandil, M.D., chief of endocrine surgery at Tulane University Medical School, decided it was time to pool all that information to finally establish the impact of weight change on thyroid cancer risk. After systematically searching through three major databases of published scientific research, the team identified 31 on-point clinical studies that had been published through February 25, 2020. Together, those studies comprised 24,489,477 cohorts.

Pooled analysis of this large dataset revealed that people who are overweight or obese are at higher risk of developing thyroid cancer (with the risk being even higher for women with obesity). Further, the analysis revealed that losing weight decreases the risk of thyroid cancer (for both men and women). Conversely, the risk of thyroid cancer increases with weight gain.

Dr. Kandil hopes that the results of this study will inspire "lifestyle alterations" among those at risk and inspire doctors in the field of endocrinology to shift some of their focus to weight control strategies for cancer prevention. Speaking of weight control strategies, here are our 200 best weight loss tips.

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Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a culture and food writer. Read more