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Obesity blamed for cancers

Monday September 28th, 2009

Health Secretary Andy Burnham
Health Secretary Andy Burnham

Excess body weight may be the cause of a large number of cancer cases every year in Europe, new research suggests.

Figures from a team at Manchester University, UK, indicate that at least 124,000 cancers diagnosed in 2008 were triggered by being overweight or obese.

Dr Andrew Renehan presented the findings on Thursday (September 24th) at a meeting of the European Cancer Organisation in Berlin, Germany. He said that excess body weight causes the most cases among women, and in central European countries such as the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.

He said: "As more people stop smoking and fewer women take hormone replacement therapy, it is possible that obesity may become the biggest attributable cause of cancer in women within the next decade."

The figures were estimated using a computer model including information from 2002 collected in 30 European countries. Projecting the figures forward to 2008, the rate for Europe overall was 3.2 per cent for men and 8.6 per cent for women.

Endometrial cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer, and colorectal cancer together accounted for 65 per cent of all cancers attributable to excess body weight.

Dr Renehan continued: "I must emphasise that we are trying not to be sensationalist about this. These are very conservative estimates, and it's quite likely that the numbers are, in fact, higher."

He added that the UK has particularly high rates of obesity-related oesophageal cancer.

"This country accounts for 54 per cent of new cases across all 30 countries," he said. "This may be due to synergistic interactions between smoking, alcohol, excess body weight and acid reflux - and is currently an area where research is required."

* Football clubs have signed up to a new English project to raise men's awareness of the risk of cancer.

Called "Ahead of the Game - organise your defence", the project will see nurses handing out information at football matches across England.

The campaigner is being backed by the Bobby Moore Foundation, set up by the family of the late captain of the 1966 World Cup Winning squad.

Stephanie Moore, of the foundation, said: "Cancer can be a daunting thing to think about and I understand that some men shy away from talking about it but I hope that through football we can break through these barriers."

Health secretary Andy Burnham described the project as a "fantastic initiative".

He said: "Currently over 60,000 men get these cancers every year - that's enough to fill the average football stadium twice. By raising awareness of the symptoms and making earlier diagnoses, we can improve the chances of survival."

Findings presented on Thursday 24, 2009, at ECCO 15 - ESMO 34, the 15th congress of the European CanCer Organisation and the 34th congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology.

Tags: Cancer | Europe | Fitness | Menís Health | UK News

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