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Obesity will cause more cancers than smoking in ten years: Being overweight already causes 32,000 cancer-related deaths annually

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Obesity will cause more cancers than smoking in ten years: Being overweight already causes 32,000 cancer-related deaths annually

  • Academic study from Harvard University reveals the concerning results
  • Exercise to be common treatment alongside chemotherapy and surgery
  • Around a quarter of Brits overweight - expected to rise to a third by 2030

Mail Online
By Sophie Borlands
30 May 2015

Obesity will overtake smoking as the biggest cancer killer within the next decade, experts predict.

The condition is already to blame for up to 32,000 cancer deaths in the UK each year, researchers warn.

They say diet and exercise regimes should become ‘standard’ treatment for cancer alongside chemotherapy and surgery.

Within the next ten years in the US and the UK obesity will cause more cancers than smoking, the Harvard University academics said.

Not only does being overweight raise patients’ risk of developing cancer, it also means they are far more likely to die.

Around a quarter of adults in Britain are obese but the World Health Organisation predicts this will rise to a third by 2030.

Only last week the head of the NHS Simon Stevens warned that today’s children faced a ‘rising tide’ of cancer, heart disease and ill health due to the effects of their excess weight.

The team of researchers have spent three years assessing the link between obesity and cancer by looking at previously published studies and using computer programs to model future trends.

They also warn the effects of obesity mean some of the most common cancers are occurring 20 years earlier in life, than previously. This includes bowel cancer, which is typically occurring in adults in their 60s rather than their 80s.

The team will present their findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference – the leading US cancer body – this weekend in Chicago. Lead researcher Dr Jennifer Ligibel, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, said: ‘We are at a critical point now. The risks of cigarettes have become more known, so the prevalence is decreasing, but the rise in rates of obesity has really been staggering. People are aware that being overweight increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes but not that it increases their risk of cancer, and their risk of dying from cancer.’

In the past decade successive governments have imposed a raft of policies aimed at cutting smoking, including raising tax on tobacco, banning smoking in public buildings, and cigarettes being hidden from view in shops.

Yet at the same time, calls for policies to cut obesity, including a tax on sugar, have repeatedly been ignored. Just last week Downing Street refused again to consider such a tax, even after a junior health minister said he would favour the move.

Life Sciences minister George Freeman said higher taxation should be considered for firms selling sugary products, which ‘confer costs on all of us as a society’. But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I don’t believe the right approach is to put sugar taxes on hard-working people to increase the cost of their shopping baskets.’

The Harvard researchers say there is strong evidence that obesity raises the risk of the most common types of tumours including breast, prostate, bowel, womb and cervical cancers.

One study they examined showed women with breast cancer were 75 per cent more likely to die if they were obese at the time of diagnosis. Another showed very overweight women were six times more likely to develop womb cancer. Dr Ligibel said patients should be sent on diets and exercise programs as soon as they are diagnosed, as part of their ‘routine’ treatment.

Another study showed patients who did high levels of exercise after being diagnosed were twice as likely to survive. Lee Jones, of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, said exercise should become the ‘cornerstone’ of treatment.

Being overweight is thought to raise the levels of some hormones in the body, meaning tumours are likely to develop. There is also strong evidence it interferes with treatment and hinders patients’ recovery. There are 330,000 new cases of cancer in the UK each year, leading to around 162,000 deaths. The researchers say obesity is responsible for a fifth of these – around 32,000 – but that may be an underestimate. Smoking causes 28 per cent of cancer deaths.

Dr Pamela Goodwin, of the Mount Sinai hospital in New York, said: ‘As smoking rates continue to go down we are going to reach a point in this generation where obesity will make a greater contribution to cancer than smoking. That’s profound.’


1 comment :

  1. Bingo... we are the blobs from wall-e... It is disgusting to see what we are evolving into as a society. As far as I am concerned, all countries are at risk...

    Human dystopia |

    ~get real


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