A meta-analysis of more than 200 studies shows that being overweight could increase cancer, including colon, breast, pancreas and ovary cancer. Based on previous figures from two leading charities, in 2035, almost ¾ of people are expected to be overweight and 700,000 new cases of obesity-related cancer in 20 years time.
A recent study proves that there is a strong link between excess body fat and an increased risk of 11 cancers: colon, rectum, endometrium, breast, ovary, kidney, pancreas, gastric cardia, biliary tract system and certain cancers of the oesophagus and bone marrow.
Marc Gunter, a co-author of the research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer said, “I think now the public and physicians really need to pay attention to obesity with respect to cancer. Telling people to avoid being overweight not only reduces their risk of, say, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it also reduces their risk of many different cancers.”
Another meta-analysis on 204 previous studies that looked at the findings revealed that body fat is associated with the development of particular cancer. 95 studies included looked at obesity measures on a continuous scale such as body mass index and found 12 strong evidence that linked obesity to nine different cancers. It revealed that the higher BMI an individual has, the higher the rate of developing cancer is. For men, for every 5kg/m2 increase in BMI, the risk of developing colorectal cancer rose by 9%, while among women forgoing HRT, the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer increased by 11%. The figures were even higher for cancer of the biliary tract system, with risk increasing by 56% for every 5kg/m2 increase in BMI.
According to the author, 83 studies were of mixed quality: 18% were highly suggestive that obesity is linked to caner while 20% has weak evidence and 25% does not have any evidence. And there were 11 type of cancer that has strong evidence.
Cancer Research UK’s health information officer, Dr Rachel Orritt mentioned that, “This research uses very strict criteria to evaluate the evidence and confirms that obesity increases the risk of cancer, linking many of the same cancer types that have been linked before.” She also noted that being overweight is second only to smoking as the biggest preventable cause of cancer. “Whether it’s taking the stairs or switching to sugar-free versions of your favourite drinks, small changes can make a real difference, helping you keep a healthy weight and reducing your risk of cancer,” she said.
While Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England stated that we should raise awareness on the matter, as less of the population realize that being obese could increase the rate of cancer. Paul Aveyard, professor of behavioural Mmedicine at the University of Oxford agreed to the fact that awareness is the key, “It is one more reason for people to be concerned about the excess body weight that they carry,” he said. “This risk isn’t confined just to people who are really overweight. All of us who carry excess fat, and that is most of us in this country, are at some degree of risk.”