According to a new study conducted by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Farr Institute of Health Informatics, being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing 10 of the most common cancers.
This is the largest study of its kind on BMI (body mass index) and cancer, and has involved more than 5 million adults in the UK.
What these researchers have found is that:
Every 5 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 leukemia (9%). Higher BMI also increased the overall risk of liver, colon, ovarian, and breast cancers.
To provide a frame of reference, today in the UK, 64% of adults are classed as being overweight or obese, this compares to less than 40% in the 1980’s, and the numbers keep increasing as the years go by.
But this is not just a UK problem, this trend is global as can be seen in this chart:
As a result, the researchers who conducted the study estimate that over 12,000 cases of the most common cancers in the UK are attributable to being overweight or obese, and that if the BMI in the population continues to increase there could be over 3500 extra cases of cancer a year as a result in the UK alone.
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The importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle
As this research highlights, if you want to reduce your risk of disease such as cancer you have to look after your body. This includes living a healthy lifestyle, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight. These sound like common sense, but as can be seen in the research, implementing these fundamentals is anything but common.