Conn. (WTNH) — The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. is on the rise and the pandemic is making matters worse — a combination fueling the risk of cancer.

Dr. Eric Winer, Director of the Yale Cancer Center and Physician in Chief of the Smilow Cancer Center, specializes in breast cancer. He said post-menopausal breast cancer, as well as many gastrointestinal cancers, are high on the list of cancers susceptible to obesity.

The numbers from the CDC are staggering — and not just with adults. In the age group of 2 to 19 years old, the rate of increase in body mass index doubled with the start of the pandemic from January 2018 to November 2020.

“There are over a dozen cancers where the incidence is affected by body weight,” Dr. Winer said. “And, in a number of those, it’s sort of a double-whammy. It’s not just the cancer incidence goes up, it’s that if you get that cancer, you’re more likely to have a poor outcome.”

Winer said that obesity is going to become a problem that “we need to intervene on from a cancer standpoint.”

In regard to exercise, Dr. Winer called it an anti-depressant, noting that this is one of the healthcare disparities in the country that we have to try and eliminate, and over the next decade, a big commitment at Yale and Smilow will be to eliminate the cancer care disparities that exist in the state.