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Obesity set to overtake smoking as number one preventable cause of cancer in UK women, charity warns


Obesity set to overtake smoking as number one preventable cause of cancer in UK women, charity warns

By 2043, obesity will surpass smoking to be the biggest preventable cause of cancer in UK women. That’s one of the shocking new predictions to come out of a report by Cancer Research UK.

At present, around 7% of cancers in women are linked to being overweight and obese, while 12% are said to be caused by smoking. But as the number of individuals who smoke continues to fall and obesity rates continue to rise, the UK cancer charity believes that gap will completely disappear over the next 25 years (assuming current trends continue).

In fact, by 2035, the percentage of cancers caused by smoking and by carrying excess weight will almost be equal (25,000 cancer cases each year related to smoking vs. 23,000 related to being overweight).

However, after just another eight years (by 2043), being overweight and obese is likely to be linked to even more cases of cancer in women than smoking.

Interestingly, the cancer charity says that obesity will not overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer in men until some time later. The reason for this, though, is simply because more men than women smoke.

While obesity is more prevalent among men too, it is thought to be a greater catalyst in women for developing cancer.

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's prevention expert, said the UK government must act now to stem the tide of obesity-related cancers.

“That's why we are raising awareness of the link between cancer and obesity and calling for measures to protect children, like a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm and for restrictions on price promotions of 'less healthy' products,” she said.

Smoking-related cancers include:

  • acute myeloid leukaemia

  • lung

  • bladder

  • bowel

  • cervical

  • pancreatic

  • stomach

Obesity-related cancers include:

  • bowel

  • gall bladder

  • kidney

  • liver

  • breast

  • ovarian

  • thyroid