The intentional loss and then unintentional regain of 10 pounds or more is known as yo-yo dieting.
According to investigators, yo-yo dieting is not associated with overall cancer risk or specific risks for 12 cancers.
Yo-yo dieting is a popular term and is technically known as weight cycling. A number of studies have linked it to cancer. However, according to investigators, those have had notable limitations.
Nearly half of American adults are trying to lose weight and most loss is regained. Therefore, if weight cycling was a cancer risk, it would be a broad public health issue.
The study was conducted by investigating many more cancers than any previous study, having the largest population and including men, who have mostly been neglected in previous research.
42,498 men and 53,709 participated in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, which was started in 1992.
The study’s baseline questionnaire asked the number of times at least 10 pounds were purposely lost but later regained.
The people who reported weight cycling were categorized by the total number of cycles they reported.
In this 96,207 person study, 25,317 first cancers occurred from 1994 to 2009.
The study discovered that weight cycling was not assoiated with overall risk for cancer in men or women.
Additionally, weight cycling was not associated with any of the 12 individual cancers investigated: prostate, colon, rectal, pancreatic, renal, esophageal, liver, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, lung, melanoma, and stomach.
These results suggest that weight cycling, independent of body weight is unlikely to influence subsequent cancer risk.
According to investigators, the study’s strength was that the questionnaire asked participants about “purposely” losing weight. The element of intention is important because weight loss can occur with unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking. Some of the other studies that have shown a link between weight cycling and cancer risk have failed to control for intentionality.