Cancer is a disease in a person’s genes which is the bits of DNA code that hold the instructions for all of the microscopic machinery inside the cells. Getting older and smoking are big risk factors for cancers however another risk factor is more worrying than both of these and is putting people at a greater risk.
Being overweight may be more than twice as dangerous as previously thought when it comes to certain forms of the disease.
Having excess weight is second only to smoking when it comes to avoidable cancer causing lifestyles.
Experts said in a study that being severely overweight has ‘devastating effects’ and the NHS warned many people still don’t understand its risks.
Some 64 per cent of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, with almost a third of children being overweight.
According to Cancer Research UK, the reason why being overweight puts a person more at risk is because fat cells send out signals which encourage other cells in the body to divide more often, which may lead to tumours forming.
Fat acts like a giant gland and increases levels of hormones such as oestrogen and insulin, which promote extra growth, as well as causing internal swelling.
Chief executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens said: “While cancer survival is at a record high, many people don’t yet realise that obesity causes cancer.
“And now there is evidence that it’s a graver danger than first thought. If we continue to pile on the pound, we’re heading for thousands more avoidable cancer deaths every year.”
It is now estimated that obesity is known to make people more likely to get 13 types of cancer.
These include breast, bowel, womb, oesophageal, pancreatic, kidney, liver, stomach, gallbladder, ovarian, thyroid, brain cancers, as well as myeloma.
Stevens added: “While cancer survival is at a record high, many people don’t yet realise that obesity causes cancer.
“On current trends, by 2030 we could see 100 new patients every day being diagnosed with obesity-related cancer.
“So, obesity is the new smoking, and if we continue to pile on the pounds, we’re heading for thousands more avoidable cancer deaths every year.”
Harvard University expert Doctor Jennifer Ligibel said: “Obesity is now one of the greatest challenges facing the world.
“The US has higher levels of obesity but the UK is catching up. It is very troubling.”
Cancer Research UK said: “Research has shown us the impact that a healthy lifestyle can have, as well as the role chance plays in our risk of getting cancer.
“As individuals, we can stack the odds in our favour by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, being more active and drinking less alcohol.
“We can also get to know our bodies and what’s normal for us so we can spot any unusual or persistent changes early on.”