Obesity and Cancer: New Moves in UK

Bad diet has recently overtaken smoking as the biggest single cause of the 40% of lifestyle linked avoidable illness the service treats. Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England has said.  He added: “Smoking still kills 80,000-plus people a year, smoking is still a huge problem. But it turns out that diet has edged ahead.”                              

His comment came as he announced the introduction of a sugar tax on high sugar drinks and snacks sold in hospital cafes and vending machinesin to help tackle the “national sugar high”. Sugar addiction is increasingly ruining people’s health through obesity, itself a station on the direct line to a number of cancers.

Simon Stevens also upped the stakes in TV Chef Jamie Oliver’s campaign to bring in a sugar tax by urging ministers to take radical action against obesity, including forcing food firms to strip sugar out of their products, as part of an unprecedented assault on bad diet.Obesity is known to be associated with increased risks of the following cancer types, and possibly others as well:

• Esophagus (throat)

• Pancreas

• Colon and rectum

• Breast (after menopause)

• Endometrium (lining of the uterus)

• Kidney

• Thyroid

• Gallbladder

     Studies in USA have shown a direct link between obesity and cancer. The percentage of cases attributed to obesity varied widely for different cancer types but was as high as 40 % for some cancers, particularly uterine cancer and esophageal adenocarcinoma, (throat cancer to you and me).

     A projection of the future health and economic burden of obesity in 2030 estimated that continuation of existing trends in obesity will lead to about 500,000 additional cases of cancer in the United States by 2030. This analysis also found that if every adult reduced their weight by roughly 1 kg (or 2.2 lbs) for an adult of average weight, this would prevent the increase in the number of cancer cases and actually result in the avoidance of about 100,000 new cases of cancer.

While these figures relate to US studies, a similar pattern has emerged in the UK. Cancer prevention through appropriate lifestyle and diet choices is always a better, and safer, option than contracting life-threatening cancer, lengthy treatment and possible cure.

Further Reading

Examiner    Sugar,  Obesity and Cancer Risk

Medical News Today  How quitting sugar impacts onbody weight

Guardian NHS and need for sugar tax

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