Men with waists over 40 inches and women with waists over 35 inches are at greater risk of certain cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes.
That’s the message to come out of a study by scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is an arm of the World Health Organisation.
According to Dr Heinz Freisling, the lead author of the study published in the British Journal of Cancer, a person’s waist measurement is as good at predicting cancer risk as their body mass index (BMI).
His advice is for people to know their waistlines.
“You only need to put a tape measure around your belly button. This is easy to do and can give a person an indication of whether their risk for specific cancers is increased or not – for instance pancreas or liver cancer which are known to be related to increased body fatness or obesity,” he said.
Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to 13 types of cancer, including bowel, breast and pancreas.
The study combined data from about 43,000 participants who had been followed for an average of 12 years and more than 1,600 people were diagnosed with an obesity-related cancer.