Obesity linked to more than 30 types of cancer

A recent study suggests that obesity may contribute to 40% of new cancer cases, and it has been linked to 32 different types of cancer.

Carried out by researchers from the Lund University in Sweden, the study monitored the weight and lifestyle of 4.1 million people over four decades.

During this time, some 332,500 cancers were identified. The researchers found that 40% of these cases were linked to excess weight – it was previously believed that only 25% of cancers were obesity-related.

In addition, the findings suggest that obesity is a factor in 32 types of the disease. This is more than double the number reported by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2016.

The new cancer types include types of head and neck cancer, cervical cancer, malignant melanoma, gastric tumours, vulval and penis cancer.

As a result, the researchers believe that ‘a substantial proportion of cancers could potentially be prevented by keeping a normal weight.’

Lead researcher, Ming Sun, said: ‘Our findings suggest that the impact of obesity on cancer might be greater than previously known, in that it is a risk factor for more cancers, especially of rarer kind.

‘Some of these have rarely or never before been investigated in relation to obesity.’

Government wake-up call

This comes as the government has received criticism for failing to implement legislation to tackle obesity.

Katharine Jenner is director of the Obesity Health Alliance. She said: ‘This should be a wake-up call to the government to urgently implement public health policies which will make a meaningful difference, such as restrictions on junk food marketing and levies on unhealthy food.

‘We need to make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone.’

Malcolm Clark from Cancer Research UK also said: ‘The link between being overweight and obese and cancer is well-established. It’s the second biggest cause of the disease in the UK after smoking. But the government has failed to implement its own strategy and legislation.

‘They should urgently implement the delayed restrictions on both advertising and promoting unhealthy food and drink.’

Health secretary Victoria Atkins said: ‘I want us all to be able to lead longer, healthier lives. That starts with preventing illness through healthy lifestyle choices, like eating well, exercising regularly and not smoking.

‘We are already introducing world-leading legislation to protect future generations from the harmful effects of smoking to reduce illnesses like cancer, and we’re taking strong action to tackle obesity too.’

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