Three in 4 don't know obesity causes cancer

September 08, 2016

THREE out of four (75 per cent) people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to a new Cancer Research UK report* published today (Friday).

The nationwide survey found that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to know about the link **. And men are less likely than women to be aware of the increased risk of cancer caused by obesity.

As well as general ignorance about obesity and cancer, the survey showed that more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of those asked didn't know obesity was linked specifically to ovarian cancer.

More than two thirds (69 per cent) didn't know there was a link with breast cancer and more than half (53 per cent) didn't know pancreatic cancer was linked to obesity ***.

There was better awareness of the link with bowel cancer with 60 per cent of those surveyed knowing the association and 55 per cent of people linked obesity with liver cancer.

Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to an estimated 18,100 cancer cases each year in the UK. Being overweight or obese is linked to 10 types of cancers, including breast, bowel, womb and oesophageal.

A recent report by Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum estimated that if current trends of being overweight and obese continued, there would be a further 670,000 cancer cases over the next 20 years. The report also found that the number of obese people would be higher among lower income groups ****.

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's head of health information, said: "A quarter of all UK adults are estimated to be obese, and this has a real impact on their risk of developing cancer. Eating a healthy balanced diet and becoming more active can help people to keep a healthy weight. And encouraging children and teenagers to do the same can help them keep to a healthy weight later on in life."

Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, said: "Cancer isn't at the forefront of people's minds when talking about obesity and that's really concerning. Few understand that excess weight increases the risk of several cancers, including some of the most common such as breast cancer.

"It's the Government's responsibility to inform the public of the link and also to take action to tackle the obesity epidemic, starting with the health of the nation's children. It's great the Government's childhood obesity plan includes a sugary drinks tax, but it's not enough to curb the rising tide of ill-health.

"The Government acknowledges that marketing junk food to kids is a problem and has removed these adverts during children's programming. We also need to see these restrictions during family viewing time before 9pm if we want to make a difference to children's health."
-end-
The study was conducted by the Policy Research Centre for Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK.

For media enquiries contact Stephanie McClellan in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 5314 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

Notes to editor:


* Public knowledge of the link between obesity and cancer. Hooper L, Anderson A, Forster A, Rosenberg G & Vohra J (2015) Public knowledge of the link between obesity and cancer. Cancer Research UK. Data collection took place 24th February - 8th March 2016 and provide a sample of 3293 adults that was representative of the UK population (England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland), based on age, gender, region and education.

** Gender (n=3293) n (% aware of link)
Men (n=1604) 382 (23.8)
Women (n=1690) 455 (26.9)

Socioeconomic status (n=3293)
AB (n=724) 218 (30.1)
C1 (n=988) 285 (28.8)
C2 (n=494) 95 (19.2)
DE (n=1087) 239 (22.0)

*** Cancer type Total n=3293 (%) correctly answered that there is a link Male n=1604 (%) correctly answered that there is a link Female n=1689 (%) correctly answered that there is a link # of cases per year linked to obesity

Bowel 1977 (60.1) 966 (60.3) 1011 (59.9) 5,400
Liver 1817 (55.2) 896 (55.9) 921 (54.5)
Pancreatic 1577 (47.30) 773 (48.2) 784 (46.4) 1,100
Kidney 1458 (44.3) 748 (46.6) 710 (42) 2,400
Gall Bladder 1361 (41.3) 596 (37.2) 765 (34.3) 150
Bladder 1068 (32.4) 575 (35.9) 493 (29.2)
Oesophageal 1028 (31.2) 489 (30.5) 539 (31.9) 1,800
Breast 1025 (31.1) 451 (28.1) 574 (34) 4,300
Advanced prostate 905 (27.5) 492 (30.7) 413 (24.8)
Womb 709 (21.5) 340 (21.2) 369 (21.8) 2,900
Ovarian 724 (22) 349 (21.8) 375 (22.2)

Cases calculated by the Statistical Information Team at Cancer Research UK, the estimated population attributable fractions overweight and obesity for cancers in the UK in 2011 using Parkin, D. M. & Boyd, L. Cancers attributable to tobacco, radiation ionising and occupational exposure in the UK in 2010. British Journal of Cancer 105 Suppl, S34-7 (2011).

Cancer type Total n=3293 (%) correctly answered there is not a link Male n=1604 (%) correctly answered there is not a link Female n=1689 (%) correctly answered there is not a link

Stomach (no strong evidence) 150 (4.6) 58 (3.6) 92 (5.4)
Cervical (no strong evidence) 743 (22.6) 291 (18.2) 452 (26.7)

**** http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/tipping_the_scales_-_cruk_full_report11.pdf

About Cancer Research UK
For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit http://www.cancerresearchuk.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Cancer Research UK

Related Obesity Articles from Brightsurf:

11 years of data add to the evidence for using testosterone therapy to treat obesity, including as an alternative to obesity surgery
New research covering 11 years of data presented at this year's European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) show that, in obese men suffering from hypogonadism (low testosterone), treatment with testosterone injections lowers their weight and improves a wide range of other metabolic parameters.

Overlap between immunology of COVID-19 and obesity could explain the increased risk of death in people living with obesity, and also older patients
Data presented in a special COVID-19 session at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) suggests that there are overlaps between the immunological disturbances found in both COVID-19 disease and patients with obesity, which could explain the increased disease severity and mortality risk faced by obese patients, and also elderly patients, who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

New obesity guideline: Address root causes as foundation of obesity management
besity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not weight loss alone, and include a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of obesity, according to a new clinical practice guideline published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191707.

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.

Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.

Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?

Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.

Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.

Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.

Read More: Obesity News and Obesity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.