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Well, let’s just roll two of my top topics into one blog and see if we can bring a little common sense to bear on the causes of cancer.

If a poll was taken and people were asked to name the leading causes of heart disease and cancer, I suspect (because it would be my guess), that most people would guess smoking. Certainly it would be at the head of the class for cancer. I mean there’s lung cancer which is almost never linked to anything else. I mentioned in a recent post that smoking increases the risk of death from prostate cancer. Smoking substantially increases a person’s risk of developing cancer of the larynx, pharynx, oral cavity, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas.

Now a major report comes out and essentially says that obesity is “a cancer risk that approaches and may even surpass smoking”.

If you add to that smoking gun the fact that obesity is a major culprit in diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other mortality laced health issues, suddenly cigarette smoking isn’t public enemy number one. But don’t think for a minute that life insurance underwriters have jumped off of their smoking rate bandwagon. If not public enemy number one, smoking has to be public enemy number one and a half.

The good news is that tests have proven that if you quit smoking and haven’t damaged yourself too severely, the effects are somewhat reversible. The same can be said for being overweight. I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked to that have totally controlled their diabetes or their high blood pressure by losing weight.

Bottom line. For now smokers take a bigger insurance hit than most obese people. A study like this can be an underwriting eye opener though. I don’t think it will mean better treatment for smokers, but could be the impetus for reconsidering how obesity is underwritten. And hang on if you happen to be an overweight smoker….