Tuesday, 19 August 2014 | MYT 12:00 AM

10 common cancers from excess body weight

Monitoring weight gain can help keep cancer at bay. - Filepic

Monitoring weight gain can help keep cancer at bay. - Filepic

Being overweight boosts the risk of ten types of cancer, according to a study from the UK of five million adults.

Researchers calculated that 12,000 cases of these ten cancers every year in the UK were attributable to excess body weight. If current trends continue, “there could be over 3,500 extra cancers every year as a result,” said a statement issued with the study, the largest of its kind, published in The Lancet medical journal.

Measured as a ratio of weight in kilogrammes-to-height in metres squared, a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and 30 plus as obese.

Excess weight is linked to a higher risk of different cancers. Watching what we eat is key. – Filepic

Each five kg/m2 increase in BMI was clearly linked with higher risk of cancers of the uterus (62% increase), gallbladder (31%), kidney (25%), cervix (10%), thyroid (9%) and leukaemia (9%),” says the statement.

Higher BMI also increased the overall risk of cancer of the liver (19%), colon (10%), ovaries (9%) and breast (5%), although the effect on these four types was influenced by other factors.

Even within normal height-to-weight ranges, people with higher BMI numbers were more at risk, the researchers found. Conversely, those with high BMI seemed to be at a slightly lower risk of developing prostate and pre-menopausal breast cancer.

The researchers used patient records on a nationwide data network and identified 5.24 million individuals aged 16 and older who were cancer-free when they were first registered. Their health status was followed for an average 7.5 years, during which period nearly 167,000 in the group developed some form of cancer.

Gaining health and losing weight has never been so crucial. – Filepic

“There was a lot of variation in the effects of BMI on different cancers,” says study leader Krishnan Bhaskaran of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “For example, risk of cancer of the uterus increased substantially at higher body mass index; for other cancers we saw more modest increases in risk, or no effect at all.

The team said excess body weight may account for 41% of uterine and 10% or more of gallbladder, kidney, liver and colon cancers in the UK.

Commenting on the findings, Peter Campbell from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta highlighted the need for policy changes to curb excess weight and obesity, a growing global problem. These could include taxes on foods like sugar-sweetened drinks that are high in calories but low in nutrition, subsidies for healthier alternatives, and urban planning that encourages walking and other forms of exercise.

Being overweight also puts people at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. A recent global analysis found that a third of adults and a quarter of children today are overweight. – AFP

Get moving!

Break from being sedentary and start getting active. A simple and almost cost-free form of exercise, and something we all know how to do instinctively, is running. We are not suggesting a marathon or a 10km run right now. We are saying, start slow and start smart. The most important thing is, of course, to start and keep active. Here are some helpful videos to get you going.

Tags / Keywords: Cancer , excess body weight , body weight , weight loss , health , study , overweight , obesity , sedentary lifestyle


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