According to the results of a new study published in The Lancet Oncology an astonishing 418,000 new cancers globally were the result of an expanding waistline. The vast majority of these cases occurred in developed countries which have been plagued with an epidemic of obesity to which there is no end in sight.
Obesity related cancers could easily swell
The study was conducted by Dr. Melinda Arnold from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and found that 64 per cent of obesity related cancers were diagnosed in Europe and North America. If nothing is done to combat the growing problem of obesity, the researchers are warning that the future burden of such types of cancer could easily swell.
Women more at risk than men
The results come from data collected from over 184 countries, including the agencies own internal database known as GLOBOCAN. Tom Stansfeld of Cancer Research UK says according to the study’s results, 4.4 per cent of cancer in UK males could be attributed to high BMI. The situation for women in the UK was much worse with 8.2 per cent of all cancer cases linked to a high BMI.
Fatty tissue is the culprit
The differences seen between genders in the UK was largely replicated around the world, which the researchers think is mainly due to post menopausal and endometrial breast cancers. Obesity can be linked to a variety of other cancers and the additional risk is in response to the fatty tissue in the body producing extra hormones which impact the way cells work.
Most cases of obesity related cancer in North America
Obesity related cancers were most prevalent in North America which recorded 111,000 cases or nearly 23 per cent of new obesity related cancers globally. In last place was sub-Saharan Africa which contributed just 7,300 cases. Of the total number of European cancer cases that could be attributed to a high BMI, Eastern Europe accounted for just over a third, or 66,000 cases.
Obesity is a challenge
Dr. Arnold says the result emphasised the need to deal with the challenge posed by obesity. Obesity in adults has nearly doubled since 1980. Mr. Stansfeld agrees and said the figures illustrate just how important it is to tackle the problem of obesity which could end up helping to save lives.
“While losing weight is never easy, making lasting changes that you can maintain in the long term is the most effective way to keep a healthy weight. More than 4 in 10 cancers in the UK can be prevented through lifestyle changes like not smoking, drinking less alcohol, keeping a healthy weight and exercising regularly, and enjoying a diet that is high in fruit and veg and low in red and processed meat and salt.” Mr. Stansfeld said.
We need to encourage healthier lifestyles
If we want to protect future generations from unnecessary risks, it is critical that we encourage healthy lifestyles by taking more aggressive action which will make it easier for individuals to opt for healthier choices as opposed to junk food.