Obesity now linked to 12 different cancers

Earlier examines observed links between excess body mass and seven different cancers, but new evidence has detected five more

Obesity is linked to as many as 12 different forms of cancer, according to a major new report which advises giving up bacon and swapping sugary drinkings for water as part of a 10 -point plan for avoiding the disease.

Up to 40% of cancers are preventable, says the World Cancer Research Fund, launching its updated report on the reasons for the global spread. While smoking is still the biggest cause of cancer, WCRF says obesity will overtake it within a couple of decades in countries like the UK. The money had indicated that our unhealthy modern lifestyle- and the promotion of junk food- has to end if people are to avoid the disease.

Watching screens, whether computers at work or the Tv at home, is bad for adults and children because it is sedentary. Physical activity, including walking, is protective. Processed meats and too much red meat are linked to bowel and other forms of cancer. Sugary beverages cause people to put on weight. Alcohol is also calorific and linked to bowel, breast, liver, mouth and throat, oesophagus and stomach cancers.

Ten years ago, WCRF identified links between obesity and seven cancers. Today, the evidence displays links to 12, says the report presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna. They are cancers of the liver, ovary, prostate( advanced ), stomach, mouth and throat, bowel, breast( post-menopause ), gallbladder, kidney, oesophagus, pancreas and womb.

It is impossible to work out how many cancer-free years a better lifestyle could buy people, says WCRF, but a spokesperson said ” we do know that around 40% of cancer examples are preventable and that feeing a healthy diet, being more active each day and maintaining a healthy weight are- after not smoking- the most important routes you can reduce your cancer hazard .”

WCRF says one in six demises globally are already caused by cancer. As more countries adopt “western” lifestyles, moving fewer and eating more junk food, the number of new cases of cancer is expected to rise. At the current rate, the number of cases around the world will increase by 58%, reaching 24 m per year by 2035. The global cost of cancer, it says, is projected to be an “astonishing” US $458 bn by 2030.

It is the whole diet that are important- not just giving up sugars or salami. WCRF recommends that people cut down on quick and processed convenience foods. In February the Guardian revealed that more than half the UK diet was made up of ultra-processed foods .

” Our research presents it’s unlikely that specific foods or nutrients are important single factors in causing or protecting against cancer ,” said Dr Kate Allen, WCRF’s executive director of science and public affairs.

” Rather, different patterns of diet and physical activity throughout life combination to induce you more or less susceptible to cancer. Our cancer prevention recommendations work together as a blueprint to beat cancer that people can trust, because they are based on evidence that has now proven consistent for decades .”

This is the third expert report on global cancer prevention that WCRF has published- the others were in 1997 and 2007.

Individuals can help reduce their cancer danger by living a healthy life, but governments have a responsibility too, it says. Public health policies and regulations that reduce the advertising and marketing and discounting of junk and processed foods and make it easier to walk, cycle and be active are vital, the report says.

Prof Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert, said:” This report supports what we already know- the key to cut cancer risk is through our way of life. Not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, eating and drinking healthily and getting more active all helps. A bacon butty or glass of wine every so often isn’t anything to worry about, it’s the things you do every day that matter most. Building small changes into your daily life, like choosing sugar-free drinkings or walking more, can add up to a big difference for your health .” She also called on the government to act to curb junk food marketing.

Quick guide

WCRF’s 10 -point plan for avoiding cancer

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