Many people think that cancer is something that happens to somebody else but it is important to understand that cancer can affect you.
The good news is, there are ways to help reduce your risk.
Studies show being overweight, physically inactive and not eating well cause nearly one third of all cancers.
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing certain types of cancer including common forms such as bowel and (post-menopausal) breast cancer, as well as cancers of the endometrium, kidney and oesophagus.
Being overweight or obese also increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease, gout, impaired fertility, lower back pain, osteoarthritis and many other conditions.
To reduce your risk, aim to keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference within the recommended range.
BMI is a measure of your body weight in relation to your height - a score over 25 is classed as overweight and a score over 30 is obese. To work out your BMI, you need to know your weight (in kilograms) and your height (in metres).
Click here for BMI Calculator
Steve weighs 82 kg and is 1.74 metres tall. To calculate his BMI: 82 ÷ (1.74 x 1.74 ) = 27 kg / m2 Steve’s BMI is 27 and is in the overweight range. Ideally your BMI should be between 18.5 and 25, in the healthy weight range.
However the specific cut-off measurements of BMI may not be suitable for all ethnic groups, who may have equivalent levels of risk at a lower BMI or higher BMI.
Measuring waist circumference
Waist circumference is another way to measure body weight. For some diseases including post-menopausal breast cancer, fat carried around the abdomen and waist is a greater risk than fat carried on the hips and thighs.
Take your waist circumference measurement at the narrowest point between the lower rib and the top of the hips (the iliac crest) at the end of a normal breath.
Men should aim for a waist circumference below 94 cm.
Women should aim for a waist circumference below 80 cm
Your health status
|Waist circumference||Level of risk|
men < 94 cm
women <80 cm
|not at risk|
men: 94-102 cm
women: 80-88 cm
men > 102 cm
women >88 cm
|substantially increased risk|
Staying in shape
Maintaining a healthy weight is about getting the balance right between what you eat and how physically active you are.
- Make it a priority not to gain more weight
- Set realistic goals to lose your weight (aiming for 0.5-1.0 kg weight loss per week)
- Eat a healthy diet
- Be physically active at every opportunity
- Eat according to your needs. Be mindful of portion size, non-hungry eating and keep high kilojoules, low nutrient foods to a minimum
- Limit alcoholic drinks as they are high in calories
Looking for more tips about managing your weight?
- SA Health - Maintaining Healthy Weight
- SA Health - Healthy Weight Loss Tips
- Dietitians Association of Australia - Weight Management
- Better Health Channel - Weight Management
Want to know where this information comes from? Click here.