The growing obesity crisis in the UK has recently been highlighted by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies. She said that being fat is increasingly seen as normal and her research shows that half of overweight men and a third of overweight women think they are “about the right weight”.
But it’s not just here in the UK where being ignorant about our expanding waistlines is a cause for concern. Recently, the United Nations (UN) said that the dramatic rise in global obesity rates puts the UN goals on reducing diet-related diseases, like obesity and diabetes, ‘beyond reach’.
And now the latest findings by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that being obese could put you at risk of developing twice as many types of cancer than previously thought.
The obesity-cancer link
In 2002 the WHO stated that mounting evidence showed that being overweight increased the risk of cancers of the bowel, gullet, breast, kidney and womb.
Now, based on the recent findings of an international team of experts led by Dr. Béatrice Lauby-Secretan from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the WHO added cancers of the gallbladder, pancreas, thyroid and brain lining to the list of cancers linked to obesity and being overweight.
In addition, the team of experts found that cancers of the liver, stomach, bone marrow and ovaries are also linked to being fat. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Lauby-Secretan noted that fat appears to have the biggest effect on cancers of the womb lining, with overweight women 50 per cent more likely to get such cancers, rising to seven times more likely for those who are morbidly obese. She also found hints that prostate cancer could be caused by obesity.
It is estimated that two thirds of British adults are overweight and a quarter are obese, and a third of children in the UK weigh too much.
Commenting on these latest findings, Jyotsna Vohra, of Cancer Research UK, said: “Scientists estimate that 18,100 cases of cancer per year in the UK are caused by excess weight, making obesity the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.”
These latest findings were published just a few weeks after the UK government scaled down its Childhood Obesity programme by levying an additional tax on fizzy drinks while dropping proposed plans to curb the marketing and promotion of unhealthy food.
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Obesity is linked to more cancers, published online 25.08.16. thetimes.co.uk
Global obesity rise puts UN goals on diet-related diseases ‘beyond reach’, published online 09.10.15, theguardian.com