A growing number of women are set to suffer from obesity-related cancers, with the condition projected to overtake smoking as the leading cause of cancer among UK women in the next 25 years.
By 2035, smoking is predicted to cause around 10% (approximately 25,000 cases) of cancers in women, while 9% (approximately 23,000 cases) will be caused by obesity, according to projections by the Cancer Intelligence team at Cancer Research UK.
However, if current trends continue, more cancers will be caused by obesity than by smoking by 2043, according to a Cancer Research UK report published yesterday.
Although there are today more obese men than women in the UK, the condition has a different impact on women, who are more commonly affected by obesity-related cancers, which include breast and womb cancer.
The report shed light on a lack of public awareness of the fact that obesity can lead to cancer, after finding that only one in seven people in the UK are aware of the link.
Cancer Research UK launched a nation-wide campaign yesterday to make a greater number of people aware of this connection. As part of this, the charity is calling for action to protect children, such as ‘a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm and restrictions on price promotions of “less healthy” products’.
Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld said: ‘The Government must build on the lessons of smoking prevention to reduce the number of weight-related cancers by making it easier to keep a healthy weight and protect children, as those who are overweight are five times more likely to be so as an adult.’
‘Obesity is the new smoking’
The warning figures come as two workstream leads for the NHS long-term plan, Dr Amanda Doyle and chief executive of Public Health England Duncan Selbie, recently asked for prevention to be at the heart of the plan.
The BMA is also calling for public health prevention to be at the core of future NHS planning, after finding that demand on health services could be reduced by 40% if the right investment is given to smoking cessation, obesity, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity services.
Commenting on the report, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: ‘Obesity is the new smoking, one of the greatest public health challenges of our generation, placing people at much greater risk of cancers, heart attacks and other killer conditions as well as type 2 diabetes.
‘Expanding waistlines also mean a heavier burden for taxpayers which 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.’