New research suggests people who are obese and lacking physical activity in their daily lives are at higher risk of developing common forms of cancer.
We've known for years now that being overweight can lead to many health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes, but new evidence now shows it's also a cause for cancer.
And it's not just excessive weight.
Those who live inactive lifestyles are also at a higher risk.
In 2009, Joplin resident Jana Doty says she weighted about 290 pounds. Two years later and 70 pounds lighter the 25 year old remembers what life was like before she made the decision to shed the weight and get healthy.
"I was tired all the time, I felt awful, I was absolutely miserable and knew that something needed to change," Doty says.
The motivating factors for that change were not so much about appearance, but more about health scares, specifically the fear of developing cancer.
"I do have a history of high blood pressure in my family, there's cancer on both sides of my family," Doty says.
According to a report published in the Journal "Cancer", obesity and lack of physical activity are risk factors for 25% to 35% of common forms of the disease, such as pancreatic, kidney and uterine cancer.
"We know that people who are overweight or obese have higher circulating insulin levels and there's been growing research over the past 5 to 10 years about the link between high insulin levels and cancers," says Dr. Elizabeth Kent, a medical oncologist for Freeman. "Obesity also affects your immune system which is why kidney cancer may also be linked in there."
As of 2005 the obesity rate here in Missouri was at 30%, that's more than double from what it was in 1995, and this new research shows this type of lifestyle is responsible for just as many cancer deaths as those caused by the use of tobacco products.
"It's a big problem in the Midwest, the lower weight in particular, obesity's a major problem and I think it needs to be a focus of community health," says Dr. Kent.
The risk was an eye-opener for Doty and she'll continue running toward her goal of losing another 50 pounds to avoid becoming a possible cancer statistic.