Overtaking smoking: Obesity could become chief avoidable cancer cause

Frederick Owens
March 25, 2018

Studies published by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) have suggested that more than a third of cancer diagnoses in the United Kingdom could be prevented by quitting smoking, weight loss and proper protection from the sun.

Cancer Research UK found the country with the greatest proportion of preventable causes of cancer was Scotland with 41.5%, followed by Northern Ireland on 38%, Wales on 37.8%, and England on 37.3%.

The charity also found that excess weight now caused 6.3% of all cancer cases - up from 5.5% in 2011 - while smoking as a cause had declined.

Exposure to substances such as asbestos and UV radiation in the workplace each caused nearly 4% of cancer cases, while air pollution, consumption of processed meat and not breastfeeding each accounted for less than 2% of cancer cases. At the time, she was almost 20 stone.

In 2015, the research found around 32,200 cases of cancer in men (17.7% of all male cancer cases) and around 22,000 (12.4%) in women due to the tobacco smoke exposure.

He added that being severely overweight was "potentially the new smoking if we're not careful".

Other preventable causes of cancer included drinking alcohol and eating too little fibre, it said.

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The research team says the new United Kingdom cancer rates have increased by 7% over the past decade which could be increased by about 2% every year.

Smoking rates "haven't come down by accident" and she called on the Government to embark on similar campaigns to drive down obesity rates.

Obesity could overtake smoking as the chief avoidable cause of cancer-related deaths, the world's largest independent funder of cancer research said Friday.

"If obesity could be avoided, the impact on cancer rates is uncertain - but they would nearly certainly decline significantly", Prof Greaves said.

'We definitely need to change attitudes towards obesity, ' she said.

Cancer Research UK said about 13,000 cases a year could be avoided through simple changes.

'Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do for your health'.

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