May 16, 2022

"In recent years, a growing number of medical and public health groups have introduced public awareness campaigns warning people to drink with caution, noting that alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of cancer, behind tobacco and obesity."

From "Should Your Cocktail Carry a Cancer Warning? As pandemic disruptions lead many of us to drink more, experts underscore the link between alcohol and disease" (NYT)(the article is featured on the front page of the NYT right now, but it was published in 2021).

There's not too much talk about alcohol causing cancer, but there's even less talk about obesity causing cancer. In fact, I don't believe I'd ever heard that obesity can cause cancer, and yet, apparently, it's the second leading preventable cause of cancer.

The article is about alcohol as a cause of cancer, so I had to look up what cancer is caused by obesity. Here's what the CDC has to say. It lists "13 Cancers... associated with overweight and obesity"

Meningioma (cancer in the tissue covering brain and spinal cord)
Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus
Multiple myeloma (cancer of blood cells)
Breast (post-menopausal women)
Upper stomach
Colon and rectum

This is a huge deal, but we don't hear about it — presumably because it's strongly believed that telling people to lose weight only makes it worse.

Look at this CDC graphic (from 2016) — it's so governmental and tragic:


"Promoting breastfeeding" — that jumps out (in this time of the formula shortage). 

That chart is funny — the way so many activities are involved. The most direct approach to losing weight — eating less — is something you can do entirely alone and without moving at all. You can, but it's just so hard. And what's the point of telling people to eat less — a lot less. They know! Everyone knows. It's completely easy and completely hard.

AND: Don't get me started on that Corporate Memphis/Alegria/Big Tech art style. Blogged about 6 weeks ago, here.


Wilbur said...

Maybe we need to worry about the ones that are non-preventable.

MikeR said...

"It's completely easy and completely hard." +1

Aggie said...

It's true that you'll lose weight if you eat less, but our survival wiring is based upon a long history of food scarcity and behaviors that take advantage of opportunities to feed. But most of us inhabit a modern world of the opposite - not only food plenty, but hyper-palatable foods that stimulate the hunger impulse with a false positive that prods us to over-consume the worst kinds of cheap carbs. Our daily routines are now rife with our intellect trying to override the hunger impulse by not consuming, and that's against our nature, when you think about it. The new normal is that self-control is the only thing stopping many of us from getting fat, where once self-control was the only thing keeping us from starving to death.

Kate said...

Take away anything pleasurable and live in constant fear that you'll die. It's the same kind of mentality that led to pandemic lockdowns. Where did this miserly, cowardly mindset come from?

Jamie said...

Well, breastfeeding does seem to be very effective at preventing breast cancer and helping women lose weight post-pregnancy.

And Weight Watchers, which had a solid program focused on portion control for so long, is now WW or something, right, because you can't fat-shame people even when you're an organization dedicated to helping people become less fat for health reasons.

I lost a bunch of weight during the pandemic, getting down to within five pounds of college fighting weight, but have put about 7-8 pounds back on; I'm working on taking them off again, but am being challenged at every turn by being two years older (damn slowing metabolism) and, you know, hating it.

John henry said...

Alcohol is toxic and can kill directly (poisoning) and indirectly (drunk driving, fighting, falling down in the snow)

First I've ever heard that it causes cancer though.

Is this breaking news or faking news?

John LGKTQ Henry

Amexpat said...

Never heard of corporate Memphis style and I missed Althouse's previous post about it. Agree that it is ugly.

The Dylan connection mentioned in the comments about the above post is not to corporate Memphis style but to the much better Italian Memphis design style, which somehow inspired the moniker for corporate Memphis. I had wondered why an Italian design school would choose the name Memphis. Wikipedia gave me the answer:

The inspiration behind naming themselves "Memphis" came about during their first meeting when Bob Dylan's record "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" had been playing repeatedly in the background.For Sottsass, the name "Memphis" represented two things: a city in Tennessee, and ancient Egypt's capital city. The group of designers then went ahead and used the ambiguity behind the name "Memphis" to represent and symbolise their own ambiguous design philosophies of furniture, objects and textiles.

Clyde said...

There are too many unknown variables in the equation to say that “obesity caused this cancer.” Is the person a smoker? Does this person work or live around carcinogenic chemicals? What is the air quality like in their community? Color me skeptical that they can accurately pinpoint the cause to obesity.

gilbar said...

This is FAT SHAMING !!! How DARE You!!!
Choosing to overeat is a Personal Choice. It is NOT something people have any control over!
Choosing to drink is a Personal Choice. It is NOT something people have any control over!

Neither of these are ANYTHING like smoking!
People CHOOSE to smoke. People have COMPLETE Control over their smoking!!

Jersey Fled said...

My scam alert goes off everything I hear the word "awareness".

Step 1: establish nonprofit for xyz

Step 2: collect money for xyz awareness. It helps if you get another awareness scam to donate the seed money. Or better yet, Philadelphia local government. Or the Clinton foundation.

Step 3: immediately kick back 15% to whoever contributed the seed money. Beginning to see how this works?

Step 4: print a few flyers and get some high school kid from a lefty family to hand them out for you. They'll do it for free because they think they're saving the world. You could use your own kid but then you'd have to pay them. After all, they're your kids and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Step 5: a few bucks will trickle in but you attract the attention of other awareness nonprofits who are looking to cycle their money for the vig that you will kick back to them.

Step 6: rinse and repeat. By now the Beau Biden Foundation is also kicking in.

Step 7: now the gravy train is rolling down the tracks. Buy yourself a Lamborghini and your mom a new home.

ga6 said...

CDC? Trust? Truth?

Tina848 said...

Obesity has other medical implications, the most common being Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension and their complications. Kidney disease, cardiac myopathy, nerve damage, circulation issues, amputation, strokes are all common. Dietary changes are a simple solution.

Personal Story: My 80 Year old Father in law has Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Went in for a bypass, AC1 at 11+. Insulin, metformin, and 2 other drugs. No one gave him more than an hour or 2 of nutritional counseling over the 15 years he had type 2. My brother was a Type 1 diabetic, and I knew the proper dietary guidelines. I put him on a lower carb diet, made food and did his grocery shopping (He doesn't cook). His AC1 is now below 6.0, he is off all diabetes meds except 1, and has removed 1 blood pressure med, and reduced a cardiac med. He lost40 pounds and is maintaining his weight, His endocrinologist said she had never heard of using a Keto/Low carb diet for type 2 management. I got him a new doctor that did....

Lurker21 said...

Everything gives you cancer. Just like everyone is a little bit racist, sexist, homophobic, bisexual, boring, narcissistic, annoying, etc.

If you figure your long ago smoking days will probably give you cancer anyway, it makes doing nothing that much easier.

Rollo said...

If Marx were alive today he would say that food was the opium of the people.

Or maybe that opiates were the food of the people.

He'd also wonder about why he thought communism was such a great idea.

Unknown said...

Can we just do some elementary reasoning here and state that "associated with" and "causes" are two different things?

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

If only we had a government agency, like a Center, completely focused on controlling Disease, especially helping with prevention to help Control disease. I’m gonna get Anita Dunn and her friends together to brainstorm possible names for this as yet to be created agency.

Achilles said...

There's not too much talk about alcohol causing cancer, but there's even less talk about obesity causing cancer. In fact, I don't believe I'd ever heard that obesity can cause cancer, and yet, apparently, it's the second leading preventable cause of cancer.

At some point the whole edifice will come crashing down. The diets of most Americans are just bad. Carbs are poison. Vegetables and fruits really do nothing for us.

Go walk around a forest or a dessert or in any natural setting where humans may have lived for hundreds of thousands of years. Do you see giant piles of lettuce hanging around waiting for us to pile it up and dump sugar on it?

We ate meat. Mostly red meat.

Been mostly carnivore for 3 months now. Eggs, read meat, salmon, cheese and heavy whipping cream. I eat a lot of pickles and drink the pickle juice out of the jar and dump salt on everything.

Ever since I dropped the salads, broccoli and asparagus and kale and spinach the body transformation skipped forward.

6 minute miles. I have dropped back to what I weighed 25 years ago. I have so much more energy. I have stopped taking TRT. I can be asleep or awake when I want to. I have to wear belts with my 32 inch waste clothes. My gut just keeps shrinking and it hasn't stopped yet. A month ago I was a 1 on the visceral fat scale from 1-10. The doctor said she hasn't seen that very often at all.

We have been told a pack of lies about what we should be eating. I spend so much less money on food and the grocery store is a 5 minute trip.

Michael said...

Fatty fatty two by four used to work.

JK Brown said...

First off, it's the CDC so any "research" they put out is likely politically shaded, if not completely.

Secondly, there is only one way to lose weight and that is to eat less. Exercise has benefits, can help shape where weight is lost, but it alone does not cause weight loss unless the exercise is extreme, such as eating normal while backpacking in the mountains for a month. Even then, given the need to prepare food and the lack of variety after a week or so, you end up eating less.

Joe Smith said...

As to the graphic style, I can only say (as a designer who has been tasked to do posters/apps/signs, etc.) it is ver difficult.

You can't do realistic representations. You have to come up with simple shapes that represent people, cars, trees, whatever.

Then there is a color palette that must make sense, be pleasant, and often include the corporate colors.

So these flat graphics make sense for many reasons...

Btw, I HATED doing this kind of work : )

Fred Drinkwater said...

Chartjunk. (Thank you, Mr. Tufte.)
How to show info when you (1) have little to show, or (2) you are trying to hide something, or (3) you don't understand your own data.

Birches said...

I just want to comment on the stupidity of "nutritious" school lunches. We've had very little to do with school lunches until this year. I get very annoyed when my kids tell me the school only serves nonfat chocolate milk and Coke zero in the vending machines. Are those healthy options? Really. Our government is so inept. The kids are probably better off eating Dominos every day.

Bart Hall said...

My late father-in-law was a pathologist for 45 years. When his only daughter developped cancer she became obsessed with what had caused her cancer. He had a terrible time convincing her that by far the most probable "cause" was pure, random, chance -- fluke copying errors as cells reproduced.

He said that though numbers vary from study to study, a safely reliable number is that at least 70 percent of all cancers are purely random chance, with no "cause". Five percent are genetic, and only perhaps 20 percent are behavior-related in any way.

So excess alcohol consumption is the "third leading cause" amongst the 20 percent of cancers which are at all lifestyle related. That seems like pretty weak tea, if you will, considering that only 0.1 percent of the population develop ANY sort of preventable cancer annually.

Next thing you know, they'll be putting warnings on CHEESE, because "studies have shown" it's the third leading cause of death in mice.

Jupiter said...

Tall people get more cancer than short people. So get your legs cut off. Or at least your feet.

Jefferson's Revenge said...

Can I just live my life without every over educated dimwit telling me what to do? In my lifetime I've been told that apples cause cancer, protein is bad, eggs are awful for you, starch is good (carbo loading), ad infinitum. Time has shown that all of that advice has been wrong. They will say whatever gets them attention. It's like the financial analysts who are always predicting the next recession to get on TV. Of course those guys are right this year though, I think

We should give out PhD's in Common Sense and Masters degrees in Mind Your Own Business.

farmgirl said...

I gained a bit of weight after menopause which began a little early. I felt like crap for a few yrs- hot flashes, nausea, overall pain and my blood panel showed inflammation over 2x normal.

Then I had an ultrasound for an issue which then required a CT. This revealed an angry, boulder-strewn gall bladder. I had that removed and voila. No more nausea, excessive aches and pains or fatigue! My weight is getting back down there, too. So, it wasn’t over-eating or limited exercise causing my matronly figure.

I’m surprised & very pleased to be feeling like my old self.
She’s quite a girl!

Sebastian said...

"You can, but it's just so hard."

Especially if government encourages the evasion and the lack of responsibility, and forces everybody else to cover the results financially.

Michael K said...

The Agriculture Department's "Food Pyramid" led to the obesity crisis and the Type II diabetes crisis. Why would anyone pay attention to the government telling us anything about health ? The coming revelations about the vaccine consequences will be horrific.

Rabel said...

Soon they will discover the dangers of secondhand fat and the restaurant industry will never be the same.

Freeman Hunt said...

A family member has lost 140 pounds in the last two years through diet and exercise. No special diet but makes sure to get enough protein to maintain muscle mass through weight lifting. Walks, does HIIT, takes frequent breaks from dieting and eats at a maintenance calorie level. Calculated what his weight would be each week about a hundred pounds back and is still within one pound of those calculations.

n.n said...

The Agriculture Department's "Food Pyramid" led to the obesity crisis and the Type II diabetes crisis.

A diet, poorly oriented, of sweeteners, instant gratification, and advocacy exacerbated in a sedentary, gluttonous, entitled population.

That said, "fat is beautiful", "healthy at any weight", are milestones of comorbidity past, present, and novel.

Jupiter said...

"He had a terrible time convincing her that by far the most probable "cause" was pure, random, chance -- fluke copying errors as cells reproduced."

Oh, I don't know. I suspect that if you spent your entire life in a cave deep underground, protected from the Sun's ionizing radiation, you might not have so many of those "purely random" copying errors. That and cut your feet off, and you should be all set.

dbp said...

Alcohol use increases the chances of having certain kinds of cancer, for instance:

Mouth and oropharynx cancers
Esophagus cancer
Liver cancer

but decreases other fatal diseases:

Coronary heart disease
Ischemic stroke
Hemorrhagic stroke

This latter group is much more common as a cause of death, so you are generally safer if you drink modestly.

dbp said...

Rusty said...

The CDC huh.
I'd like a second opinion.

Jim at said...

Live long enough and you're bound to catch some sort of cancer anyways.

So, bottoms up!

RideSpaceMountain said...

More "Corporate Memphis", more 'humans of flat'...


realestateacct said...

If they actually knew the mechanism that caused cancers I would be more likely to take this seriously. If they ever mentioned the correlation of breast cancer with abortion I might take this more seriously. The government workers have an Platonic image of how we should all live and everything must nudge us toward it.

Rabel said...


StephenFearby said...

@AA: "...there's even less talk about obesity causing cancer. In fact, I don't believe I'd ever heard that obesity can cause cancer, and yet, apparently, it's the second leading preventable cause of cancer."

The Google Scholar search: "Cancer" "Obesity" OR "Metabolic Syndrome"

Yields about 3,560,000 results:

(So, I infer from this that you don't hang out too much on Google Scholar.)

The reason for this is that Obesity or Metabolic Syndrome is associated with inflammation.

As reflected by the Google Scholar search: "Inflammation" "Obesity" OR "Metabolic Syndrome" which yields 2,2,630,000 results:

Why is that?

The Google Scholar search:

"Inflammation" "Mitochondria" "Hypothalamus "Obesity" OR "Metabolic Syndrome"

Only yields 38 results (28 if you include cancer), but they are some good ones:

Including the book Obesity and Brain Function, pp 73–116

Hypothalamic Dysfunction in Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (2017

All of this seems to be very cogent but fails to say what you can do about it.

Trump did tell Christie what to do about his gut (even though Trump continues to be overweight himself):

'...The two "went out to dinner ... three or four times a year for 15 years," Christie said, adding that "before [Trump] ran for office, this was a really fun guy." Trump was "funny, conversational," and was "the first guy to tell me I should get a "Lap-Band" surgery.'

But Christie is STILL markedly overweight.

One trick with actual research behind it is to take certain OTC supplements that have the effect of usefully modulating inflammation in the mitochondria of the hypothalamus.

The functional form of Vitamin B3 [NAD+] (which declines with both age or obesity):

Sirtuins and NAD+ in the Development and Treatment of Metabolic and Cardiovascular Diseases

...and PQQ [Pyrroloquinoline Quinone], a novel supplement that's been around for a while that some researchers say it acts like a vitamin.

"PQQ" "Obesity" Or "Metabolic Syndrome" yields 779 results in Google Scholar:

Including reports like:

Obesity Medicine (2019)

Pyrroloquinoline quinone attenuates obesity-associated low-grade inflammation [in Rats]

BTW, the Google Scholar search: "PQQ" "CANCER" yields 2,850 results:


iowan2 said...

After the last 2+ years, the CDC has less than zero credibility.

My attitude is shared by 100+million Americans.

Such is the result of being lied to for the last 2 years, and is still ongoing.

This may be true. If it is ,the CDC and its lies, are responsible for untold thousands of deaths.

iowan2 said...

My onocologist dismissed my 50 plus years in retail crop production. Chemicals, fertilizer, seed and its treatments. Never asked asked about alcohol, never stopped asking about nicotine.

He said the leading factor was likely my choice of parents.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...


Re: Weight Watchers rebranding itself as WW: OK, you don't want to actually mention the name of the thing you're doing, because it's "fat-shaming." So instead you choose the fattest letter in the entire frickin' alphabet, and then double it, just for kicks.

This doesn't seem to me a viable strategy, but what do I know?

Bruce Hayden said...

“ He said that though numbers vary from study to study, a safely reliable number is that at least 70 percent of all cancers are purely random chance, with no "cause". Five percent are genetic, and only perhaps 20 percent are behavior-related in any way.”

You want an easy behavioral modification that will reduce your chances of cancer? Don’t get Vaxed or Boosted. As Dr K points out, if you keep your eyes open, it will become fairly evident that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are really not good for you. Life insurance actuaries are seeing excess deaths all over the place, including a number of cancers. At a high level, what appears to happen is that these subsequent vaccinations crash portions of your immune system, and low level cancer growth is one of the things that suffers as a result. This is also why chronic well controlled viruses like measles resurgent, as Shingles, etc.

Of course, with the CDC pushing vaxxing and boosters, I don’t expect to see this from them any time soon.

Joe Smith said...

And yet they keep putting clinically obese women on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition...

Bunkypotatohead said...

So the food shortages and inflated prices at the grocery store is actually gov't looking out for our health?
Every cloud has its silver lining.

StephenFearby said...

I forgot to add above that the Google Scholar search: "CANCER" "Inflammation" yields 3,850,000 results.,33

A significant number...suggesting that individuals with a profile of constant inflammation someday may not be happy campers.

firstHat said...

It says "associated." Correlation is not causation. In fact, at least a few of those systems in that list can cause obesity when off kilter. Not to say that being over weight is a good thing, but we need be careful about how things connect.

ccscientist said...

Both obesity and cancer incidence go up with age, complicating the detection of causes. On the other hand I believe the obesity connection. BUT: the other complications of obesity are guaranteed. The fat positivity movement, based on the victimhood industry, is very stupid.