Obesity raises risk of 10 cancers: study

14 August 2014

The biggest ever study of the links between body mass index and cancer reveals that over 12,000 new cases of cancer every year could be attributed to the patient being overweight or obese, The Independent reported.

Obesity raises risk of 10 cancers: studyResearchers said obesity was closely linked to 10 common cancers, and with every five-point increase in BMI equivalent to an increase in weight of around 17.5kg, the risk of cancer of the uterus was higher 62 per cent, cancer of gall bladder, a 31 per cent increased and a 25 per cent increased risk of cancer of the kidney.

Higher BMI was also associated with a higher overall risk of liver, colon, ovarian and breast cancer, according to the study by experts at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the Farr Institute.

The link between higher weight and the chances of contracting certain cancers, had been known for some time, the risk levels had never been determined in such detail earlier.

The study, which was published in The Lancet medical journal today, analysed the GP records of over 5 million patients in the UK.

According to the researchers, if current trends in overweight and obesity rates continued, then by the mid 2020s there could be over 3,500 additional cases of cancer every year.

According to study leader Krishnan Bhaskaran, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the number of people who were overweight or obese was rapidly increasing both in the UK and worldwide, and if these trends continued, substantially more cancers could be expected, the Yorkshire Post reported.

Around 64 per cent of adults in England were overweight or obese with BMI of 25 or above.

According to the researchers, excess weight could account for 41 per cent of cancers of the uterus and 10 per cent of gall bladder, kidney, liver and colon cancers.

According to Bhaskaran, there was a lot of variation in the effects of BMI on different cancers. He said, risk of cancer of the uterus, for instance increased substantially at higher body mass index; while for other cancers, a more modest increase in risk, or no effect at all was seen.

He added the variation indicated the BMI must affect cancer risk through a number of different processes depending on the cancer type.

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