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Experts link being overweight to eight more cancers

30 August 2016 08:13

In England, around two-thirds of men and over half of women are overweight or obese.

In England, around two-thirds of men and over half of women are overweight or obese.

Obesity has been linked with more cancers than previously thought, experts have warned.

Researchers have linked being overweight or obese to eight more different types of cancer.

Greater BMI leads to greater risk of cancer

Being overweight can increase a middle-aged adult's chance of developing cancers of the stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovary, a type of brain tumour called a meningioma, thyroid cancer and the blood cancer multiple myeloma, according to the International Agency for Cancer on Research (IARC) - an arm of the World Health Organisation.

The study, part of the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention programme, saw experts examine more than 1,000 studies of excess weight and cancer risk.

Previous work from the group in 2002 linked excess weight to higher risks of colon, oesophagus, kidney, uterus and breast cancers in postmenopausal women.

Now the latest research, published in the The New England Journal of Medicine , found "sufficient evidence" that eight further cancers are linked to excess body fat.

The 21 independent international experts also found evidence that the higher a person's body mass index (BMI), the greater the cancer risk.

Lead author of the study Dr Beatrice Lauby-Secretan, says the research reinforces the benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight in order to reduce the risk of cancer.

Lifestyle changes can help prevent cancer

In England, around two-thirds of men, and over half of all women, are overweight or obese.

Dr Graham Colditz, cancer prevention expert based at Washington University School of Medicine in the US, who chaired the IARC group, said: "The burden of cancer due to being overweight or obese is more extensive than what has been assumed.

"Many of the newly identified cancers linked to excess weight haven't been on people's radar screens as having a weight component."

He added that lifestyle factors such as eating a healthy diet, exercising and not smoking can have a significant impact on reducing cancer risk.

Holidays with cancer

Cancer need not spell an end to holidays abroad for patients. They can give themselves protection by taking out cancer-related travel insurance.

This can cover the cost of providing 24/7 emergency medical assistance and replacement medication.

It also covers the usual travel insurance things, such as lost passports, cancelled or delayed plane departures and stolen luggage or possessions.