Obesity to overtake smoking as biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK

Obesity to overtake smoking as biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK

According to Cancer Research UK, obesity is predicted to surpass smoking as the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK for women by 2043.

Current statistics from the BBC explain 12% of cancer in the UK for women is linked to smoking, and 7% to being overweight and obese. The figures assume that current trends will continue.

Is this something to be increasingly alarmed about?

Cancer Research UK’s projections estimate that by the year 2035, 10% of cancers in women (equating to about 25,000 cases) could be linked to smoking and 9% (equating to 23,000 cases) to carrying excess weight. And by 2043, if these cases continued at a constant rate, being overweight and obese could be linked to even more cases of cancer in the UK than smoking in women.

In the UK, for men, obesity is not predicted to surpass smoking in terms of being a preventable cause of cancer at such a fast rate as it is for women; this is because more men smoke than women.

Regarding the report, typical types of cancer linked to smoking include acute myeloid leukaemia, cervical, pancreatic, lung, bladder, bowel and stomach. Similarly, cancers linked to being overweight or obese include bowel, gall bladder, kidney, liver, breast, ovarian and thyroid.

Recent figures indicate that over the last decade, levels of severe obesity during childhood have risen in England. Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert, firmly believes that we must “act now”.

“That’s why we are raising awareness of the link between cancer and obesity and calling for measures to protect children.”

Nevertheless, Bauld emphasises how the decline in smoking is a cause for celebration.

“It shows how decades of effort to raise awareness about the health risks plus strong political action including taxation, removing tobacco marketing and a ban on smoking in indoor public places, have paid off.

“But, just as there is still more to do to support people to quit smoking, we also need to act now to halt the tide of weight-related cancers and ensure this projection never becomes a reality.”

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