Obesity increases risk of having 10 common cancers, study shows

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 9:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 9:42pm


Being overweight boosts the risk of 10 common cancers, said a study of five million British adults that prompted a call yesterday for tougher anti-obesity measures.

Researchers calculated that 12,000 cases of these 10 cancers every year in Britain were attributable to excess body weight. And if current trends continue, "there could be over 3,500 extra cancers every year as a result", said a statement issued with the study, the largest of its kind, published in The Lancet medical journal.

Measured as a ratio of weight (in kg) to height (in metres) squared, a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and 30-plus as obese.

"Each five kg/m {+2} increase in BMI was clearly linked with higher risk of cancers of the uterus (62 per cent increase), gallbladder (31 per cent), kidney (25 per cent), cervix (10 per cent), thyroid (9 per cent), and leukaemia (9 per cent)," said the statement. Higher BMI also increased the risk of cancer of the liver (19 per cent), colon (10 per cent), ovaries (9 per cent) and breast (5 per cent), although the effect on these types was influenced by other factors.

Conversely, those with high BMI seemed to be at a slightly lower risk of developing prostate and pre-menopausal breast cancer.

Agence France-Presse