Obesity and cancer

Obesity has been revealed as one of the biggest causers of cancer in new research produced by Cancer Research UK. Smoking is currently believed to be the largest single contributing factor in cases of cancer, amounting to around 23% of male sufferers and in 15.6% in females.

Being overweight has been found to be a significant risk factor, surprisingly, even for the researcher Professor Max Parkin. “We found that eating fruit and vegetables was extremely important in warding off cancer in men,” he said. “And in women it was discovered that being overweight is more of a risk than excessive consumption of alcohol,” he said.

The British Journal of Cancer published the research showing that we can now pinpoint nearly a half of all known cancers as being caused by poor lifestyle choices. The study results are likely to be a wake up call for many who consider that they smoke, drink or eat too much, as the type of patients who make up 40% of cancer cases.

The research reiterated the belief that many people and health practitioners already hold, that the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is essential to a healthy diet and helps protect against cancer. It also indicated that a person’s occupation and their exposure levels to the sun and sunbeds was also a contributing factor.

“It’s the belief of many people that getting cancer is a random piece of bad luck, fate or even down to a person’s genes. But more and more the research is demonstrating that this is not the case and the presiding factor is lifestyle. This is really important to understand, because it shows that largely, people have a choice,” Prof Parkin said.

The study indicated that in women, 6.9% of cancer cases were linked to obesity while around 3.7% were linked to infections such as HPV (cervical cancer). Statistics showed that 3.6% of cases were linked to sun/sunbed exposure and 3.4% to diets lacking fresh fruit and veg. Around 3.3% was linked to alcohol abuse. Similar risks were identified for men, but the fruit and veg aspect was more important as was occupation.