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Britons miss cancer weight link

Tuesday August 4th, 2009

The vast majority of Britons are ignorant of the link between cancer and weight, campaigners warned today.

As many as 97 per cent of people do not name being overweight as a cancer risk, according to a survey conducted by Cancer Research UK.

The organisation estimates that as many as 13,000 cases of cancer a year in Britain are caused by obesity.

Some 4,000 people took part in the survey and as many as two thirds named smoking as a cause of cancer.

Nearly as many identified food and diet and 29 per cent said exercise. As participants were not prompted, it is possible that many believed that diet and exercise were ways of tackling weight problems.

Just 11 per cent mentioned the sun.

Sarah Hiom, of Cancer Research UK, said: "While many people may associate weight with being healthy in general, this survey shows that most people don't link it directly with their risk of cancer, or don?t know how much it can reduce their risk."

She added: "It may be hard for people to make the link between obesity and an increased risk of cancer because we generally associate having the disease with being underweight. But carrying extra weight means producing more chemicals in our bodies that can cause cancer to develop.

"Leading a healthy life with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise does not guarantee that a person won?t get cancer but these healthy habits can help to cut the odds."

* Meanwhile Cancer Research UK was celebrating the discovery of a genetic clue to the causes of cancer of the ovaries.

British researchers studied more than 21,000 women to identify a DNA region on chromosome nine. They found that variations in DNA was linked to a 40 per cent increased risk of developing the disease.

Scientists at Cambridge University and University College London published their findings in the journal Nature.

Nature. 2 August 2009. Honglin Song et al

Tags: Cancer | Fitness | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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