Analysts say that obesity now outnumbers smokers by two to one and as one rises and the other falls, significant impacts can be observed. In the latest report, it revealed that obesity now causes more cases than smoking for four particular types of cancer.
In the latest press release by the Cancer Research UK, they said that cancers in the bowel, kidney, ovaries, and liver are more likely to have been caused by being overweight than by smoking tobacco.
Overweight or obese causes around 22,800 cases of cancer each year, compared to smoking, which causes 54,300. As said, however, these numbers are switching places with obesity rising and smoking decreasing.
Putting things in perspective, Cancer Research UK published the article with the intent of warning people that millions are at risk from cancer caused by being overweight or being obese. However, it does not directly mean that an obese person will develop cancer.
Specifically, obesity is a predisposing factor that triggers and leads to non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases like hypertension and coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, dyslipidemia, and endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
Furthermore, an obese person’s risk of acquiring cancer is higher through the weight a person gains, and the longer they stay overweight.
Obesity has gradually become a global health issue with it spreading across developed countries and even to developing countries. Since 1980 obesity has doubled worldwide. In 2014 more than 1.9 billion adults (18 years and older) and 41 million children under the age of five were overweight.
In the UK, just over one in four adults are obese, while one in 10 children are obese by the age of five, rising to one in five by age 11. Though obesity in younger children hardly poses as a risk to severe circumstances such as cancer, it is still essential to keep them at a healthy weight range.
“Our children could be a smoke-free generation, but we’ve hit a devastating record high for childhood obesity, and now we need urgent government intervention to end the epidemic. They still have a chance to save lives,” Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive.
Obesity can be linked to 13 different kinds of cancer, namely: breast (in women after the menopause), bowel, pancreatic, oesophageal (food pipe), liver, kidney, upper stomach, gallbladder, womb, ovarian, thyroid, multiple myeloma (blood cancer), and meningioma (brain cancer).
Furthermore, among the 13 cases linked to obesity, it beats smoking to be a more prominent contributor to four types of cancer. Specifically:
- Bowel – Of around 42,000 new cases, being overweight or obese caused 4,800 and smoking 2,900
- Kidney – 12,900 in total; being overweight or obese caused 2,900 and smoking 1,600
- Liver – 5,900 in total; being overweight or obese caused 1,300 cases and smoking 1,200
- Ovarian – 7,500 in total; being overweight or obese caused 490 cases per year and smoking 25.
Annually, analysts said that overweight in the UK causes 1,900 more cases of bowel cancer than smoking, 1,400 more cases of kidney cancer, 460 more cases of ovarian cancer, and 180 more cases of liver cancer.
The Cancer Research UK analysis used data from 2017 to show there were around 13.4 million non-smoking adults who were obese. Meanwhile, 6.3 million adult smokers were not overweight, and 1.5 million adult smokers were obese smokers.
“As smoking rates fall and obesity rates rise, we can clearly see the impact on a national health crisis when the government puts policies in place – and when it puts its head in the sand,” Mitchell says.
In light of the situation, Cancer Research UK launched its campaign intending to raise awareness on the health issues of having too much and unbearable weight. Furthermore, the campaign is also used to convince legislation into adopting new laws and bans to help the charity see its ambition.
Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert, commented: “There isn’t a silver bullet to reduce obesity, but the huge fall in smoking over the years – partly thanks to advertising and environmental bans – shows that Government-led change works. It was needed to tackle sky-high smoking rates, and now the same is true for obesity.
“The world we live in doesn’t make it easy to be healthy and we need Government action to fix that, but people can also make changes themselves; small things like swapping junk food for healthier options and keeping active can all add up to help reduce cancer risk.”