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Study of over 5 million confirms obesity link to cancer

The biggest study of its kind found that over there are around 12,000 obesity-related cancers a year.

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THERE ARE AROUND 12,000 cases of cancer related to obesity each year, a new study has found.

The study is the biggest of its kind and looked at over five million cases.  Published in ‘The Lancet’ in the United Kingdom, a stronger causal link than had previously been suspected was found between different types of cancer and excess body fat.

It was discovered that Body Mass Index (BMI) was related to 17 of the 22 cancers that were looked at, however the affects varied. Overall, ten cancers were identified as having a strong causal relationship with an increase in BMI.

The strongest link association was found to be in cancer of the uterus, where excess weight was found to be the cause of 41% of cancers. Obesity was found to be the cause in more than 10% of cancer cases in the gallbladder, the liver, the kidney and the colon.

The survey was conducted by looking at 5.24 million GP records from across the UK and examining patients height and weight. A measurment of Kg/m is used to determine whether a person is overweight.

Speaking on the result,  study leader Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran said:

If we could magically remove excess weight from the population, we would have 12,000 fewer cancers.

“The number of people who are overweight or obese is rapidly increasing both in the UK and worldwide. It is well recognised that this is likely to cause more diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Increases in the risk for the different types of cancer were linked to 5kg/m increases in BMI. In the study, the incremental rises were found to lead to a 62% increase in the risk for cancer of the uterus, 31% for the gallbladder, 25% for the kidney and 10% for the cervix.

Also speaking in The Lancet, Dr. Peter T. Campbell from the American Cancer Society said:

We have sufficient evidence that obesity is an important cause of unnecessary suffering and death from many forms of cancer, in addition to the well recognised increased risks of mortality and morbidity from many other causes. More research is not needed to justify, or even demand, policy changes aimed at curbing overweight and obesity.

The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Wellcome Trust, and Medical Research Council and was conducted by Prof Liam Smeeth and co-workers at the Department of Non-Communicable Diseases Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research.

Read: 80% of Irish over 50s are overweight

Read: Study finds link between high cholesterol and breast cancer

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