“Yo-Yo Dieting” Not Associated with Increased Risk of Cancer, Study

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According to a study conducted by the American Cancer Society, repeated phases of intentional weight loss, followed by weight gain (“yo-yo dieting”) are not associated with overall cancer risk.

The longitudinal prospective study, recently published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology, included 62,792 men and 69,520 women aged 50 to 74, who were enrolled in the Cancer Preventive Study II Nutrition Cohort in 1992. Participants completed a questionnaire, which specifically inquired how often they intentionally lost and regained at least 10 pounds.

Findings revealed that over a 17-year period, 57% of women and 43% of men had reported yo-yo dieting, although women were more likely to report it. Furthermore, dieters were more likely to be younger, former smokers, have a history of diabetes, have higher BMIs at age 18, and were less likely to be current smokers.

Over this period of time, 15,333 men and 9,984 women had developed cancer. However, researchers found that yo-yo dieting was not associated with overall cancer risk or risk of 15 site-specific cancers.

Study researchers conclude that public health policies should continue to encourage overweight individuals to try and lose weight, regardless of whether weight may be regained.

Source for Today’s Article:
Stevens, V.L., et al., “Weight Cycling and Cancer Incidence in a Large Prospective US Cohort,” American Journal of Epidemiology 2015; DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwv073.


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Leah Shainhouse, R.D.

About the Author, Browse Leah's Articles

Leah Shainhouse is a Registered Dietitian with the College of Dietitians of Ontario and a member of the Dietitians of Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Honors, in Nutritional Sciences from the University of British Columbia and went on to complete her dietetic training and Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition at McGill University. Leah has a strong desire to help shape the lives of individuals through a healthy lifestyle. She enjoys working with people to help... Read Full Bio »