Which Continent Has the Highest Rate of Preventable, Obesity-Related Cancers? Take a Guess

An online tool from the World Health Organization shows the alarming prevalence of cancers related to obesity

When compared to other regions, North America had the highest rates of both preventable and attributable obesity-related cancers.

An interactive digital tool recently launched by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, shows the global prevalence of cancer “attributable to excess body weight,” during 2012.

Users can filter the data based on the type of cancer, a patient’s gender, continent, and one of two scenarios — whether the cancer can be attributed to obesity, or prevented if obesity rates had remained the same as it was three decades earlier, in 1982.

The highest rate of cancers attributed to excess body mass index (BMI) was found in North America, which had 110,714 such cases, followed by East Asia, which had 69,590 cases, and Eastern Europe, which had 65,942 cases of cancer attributable to obesity.

North America also had the highest rate of cancers that were deemed entirely preventable if the BMI of the population had remained constant since 1982, with 42,412 cases. The next highest rates of preventable cancer were found in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 17,153 cases, and East Asia, with 15,480 cases. When filtered according to types of preventable cancer, breast cancer took the lead with 27,664 cases across the globe, followed by uterine cancer (24,595 cases) and colon cancer (20,010).


According to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), there is “sufficient scientific evidence” of a causal link between obesity and several different types of cancer, including breast, uterine, colon, kidney, gallbladder, pancreas, rectal, esophagus, and ovarian.