Obesity to Become Leading Cause of Cancer Among Women in the UK

Obesity to Become Leading Cause of Cancer Among Women in the UK
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British health experts are predicting that obesity will eclipse smoking as the leading cause of cancer among women in the UK. Cancer Research UK writes in a new report that an estimated 23,000 women will be stricken with obesity-related cancer by 2035 – 2,000 fewer than the number of cases caused by smoking. [1]

But if current trends continue, obesity will become the #1 cause of cancer among women in Britain by 2043, according to the authors.

As it stands, smoking is behind 12.4% of cancers in UK women, while obesity is the cause of 7.5% of cases.

Among men in the UK, 17.7% of cancers are caused by smoking, and 5.2% are caused by obesity. The gap is reflective of the fact that more British men than women smoke cigarettes.

The authors reached their startling conclusion by analyzing incidence data between 1979 and 2014. They are using the report as an opportunity to call on lawmakers to reduce the prevalence of obesity in much the same way they reduced smoking rates – through legal action and national campaigns drawing attention to the dangers of carrying excess weight.

Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert, said:

“Obesity is a huge public health threat right now, and it will only get worse if nothing is done.

The decline in smoking is cause for celebration. It shows how decades of effort to raise awareness about the health risks plus strong political action – including taxation, removing tobacco marketing, and a ban on smoking in indoor public places – have paid off.”

The charity is calling for a ban on junk food advertisements on television before 9 p.m., and restrictions on price promotions of “less healthy” foods. [2]

(Why are bans always seen as the answer? Sigh.)

Read: Junk Food Intake Linked to Increased Cancer Risk in Recent Study

More men than women in the UK are obese, but excess weight poses a unique threat to women in the form of obesity-related cancers, including breast and uterine.

Many Britons aren’t aware that obesity is linked to 13 different types of cancer, including breast, bowel, and kidney, and that lack of knowledge has spurred Cancer Research UK to launch a campaign of its own to raise awareness of these links.

Natural Society
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said:

“Obesity is the new smoking, one of the greatest public health challenges of our generation.”

Stevens pointed out that “expanding waistlines” cost taxpayers a small fortune in terms of treatment for obesity-related health problems – not only cancer but also heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

This, he said, “is why as we draw up a long-term plan for the NHS, we are exploring all options to help patients to help themselves and help the NHS.”

The ultimate goal, Bauld said, is to “halt the tide of weight-related cancers and ensure this projection never becomes a reality.” [3]

Read: Obesity Found to Spark 500,000 Cancer Cases Annually

Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of over 40 organizations and charities working to reduce obesity, remarked: [1]

“It is alarming that obesity could soon become the biggest preventable cause of cancer in women, but sadly not surprising. Environmental factors such as advertising and promotion of unhealthy food and drink are contributing to this public health crisis.”


[1] CNN

[2] The Guardian

[3] Independent

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention