Being overweight or obese increases cancer risk, warns Cancer Research UK

Weighing Scales

Cancer Research UK warns that three in four people in the UK are not aware of the link between being overweight or obese and an increased risk of 10 types of cancer.

Its report published today, which is based on the results of a survey of 3,000 people, also reveals that men are less likely to be aware of the increased risk associated with obesity and men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds – who are more likely to be overweight or obese – are less likely to know about the increased risk.

The charity warns that being overweight or obese is one of the biggest preventable cause of cancer – second only to smoking – and is linked to around 18,100 cases of cancer each year.

A recent report from Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum estimated that, should the current pattern of obesity continue, 670,000 more preventable cancers will be diagnosed over the coming 20 years, with breast, womb, bowel and kidney cancers most commonly linked to being overweight or obese.

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, says: “A quarter of all UK adults are estimated to be obese, and this has a real impact on their risk of developing cancer. Eating a healthy balanced diet and becoming more active can help people to keep a healthy weight. And encouraging children and teenagers to do the same can help them keep to a healthy weight later on in life.”

Healthy Salad

Government has “responsibility to inform the public”

Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, says: “Cancer isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds when talking about obesity and that’s really concerning. Few understand that excess weight increases the risk of several cancers, including some of the most common such as breast cancer. 

“It’s the Government’s responsibility to inform the public of the link and also to take action to tackle the obesity epidemic, starting with the health of the nation’s children. It’s great the Government’s childhood obesity plan includes a sugary drinks tax, but it’s not enough to curb the rising tide of ill-health.”

Sugary Sweets

The future – childhood obesity and sugar

The Government has today published data from the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey which reveals that children are consuming less sugar in the form of sugary drinks than they were in 2008-2010, however, children aged between 4 and 10 are still consuming more than twice the recommended quantities of sugar for their age group, with teenagers consuming three times the recommended amount.

The Government’s long-awaited Childhood Obesity Strategy, which includes a ‘sugar tax’ levy on sugary soft drinks, was published last month amid criticism and accusations of ‘watering down’ the initial plans to curb the marketing of unhealthy foods to children and price promotions.

For tips on how to reduce your sugar intake, check out our Live Healthy article section.


This content is subject to our Disclaimer.