Most folks know that being overweight isn't healthy, and being obese is even worse.
But not everyone realizes just how deep those problems can run, going well beyond the obvious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
For women, new research shows that obesity is a risk factor for endometrial cancer, which occurs in the innermost lining of the uterus.
While past studies have found a correlation between weight and this type of cancer in pre-menopausal and postmenopausal women, the latest study is the first to find a risk in younger women, too – especially those who experienced early menopause.
The study, published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found a dramatic increase in the risk of endometrial cancer in women with a body-mass index greater than 25.
A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is generally considered normal. A BMI of 25-29.9 is overweight, while 30 or greater is considered obese.
The most frightening statistic concerned women with a BMI greater than 35 who were under 45 years old at the time of their last period. The researchers found that they were 22 times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than women with healthy weight levels.
That's not just a jump in risk – that's a launch into the atmosphere. And all for something that is entirely within your control, no matter what your gender: weight.
The risk extends to other groups of overweight women, too.
Women with a BMI greater than 25 who had their last menstrual cycle before the age of 45 had a six-fold increase in the risk for endometrial cancer, while women who were older than 45 at the time of their last period and had a BMI greater than 35 were 3.7 times more likely to get endometrial cancer.
In every case, those extra pounds seem to play a major role in the risk for this cancer. Researchers believe that extra weight could be creating a hormonal imbalance, which makes sense to me. Obesity can play havoc with your body on so many levels, and your hormones are one area that can suffer.
The best thing you can do for yourself — for so many reasons — is to lose that weight. I know it's not easy, and it doesn't help when nearly every day of your life you're being given bad advice about eating.
The low-fat Torture Chamber Diet being forced down everyone's throat is a long-term recipe for disease and obesity. It's literally killing us and making us sick in so many ways – this is just one of them.
So if you're carrying around a few extra pounds, do something about it now – while you still can – regardless of your gender.
That means avoiding the carbs and processed foods that have become a staple of 21st century American life. It also means getting some steady exercise. You don't have to join a health club, just make sure you get some steady movement in your life and work up a sweat a few times a week doing something you enjoy.
While it may be tricky at first, I think you'll find it easier once you start seeing how quickly the weight comes off, and how much better you feel when it does.