Cancer Research UK has released figures which demonstrate a strong link between obesity and cancer. The statistics say obese women have a 40% higher risk of developing at least seven types of cancer, and a one in four chance of developing cancer which is linked to their weight.
What the Figures Say
According to the study, a group of 1,000 obese women will include 274 who will be diagnosed with a weight-related cancer in their lifetime, as opposed to 194 in a group of 1,000 women with a healthy weight. The researchers say that 8.2% of all cancers in women in the UK are caused by being overweight, and suggest that the production of hormones by fat cells could be linked to the development of cancer. Oestrogen is particularly considered to be linked to the disease, which could possibly explain the increased risk in women.
Weight-related cancers include bowel, gall bladder, kidney, pancreatic, womb, oesophageal and post-menopausal breast cancers. Post-menopausal cancer has been particularly highlighted as an area of concern in overweight women, with 12% of cases being attributed to obesity.
Making Lifestyle Changes
“We know that our cancer risk depends on a combination of our genes, our environment and other aspects of our lives, many of which we can control – helping people understand how they can reduce their risk of developing cancer in the first place remains crucial in tackling the disease,” says Dr Julie Sharp of Cancer Research UK. “Lifestyle changes – like not smoking, keeping a healthy weight and cutting back on alcohol – are the big opportunities for us all to reduce our cancer risk. Making these changes is not a guarantee against cancer but it stacks the odds in our favour.”
Dr Sharp urges obese women to adjust their diet and gradually incorporate light exercise into their routine: “Just making small changes that you can maintain in the long term can have a real impact. To get started, try getting off the bus a stop earlier and cutting down on fatty and sugary foods.”