There are many factors that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer over the years, including lack of physical activity, consuming too much sugar and processed foods, smoking, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, and so on. As you can see, all of these can be prevented if the right action is taken.
Research published by UK scientists in September 2018 talks about the two leading preventable causes of cancer – smoking and obesity – and shows that obesity is likely to overtake smoking in the years to come. This isn’t to say you or anyone else should turn your entire lifestyle upside down, give up BBW dating, chocolate, a slice of pizza or a can of Coke, but caution is definitely warranted as evidenced by the figures below.
Recent research suggests that obesity is set to overtake smoking as the biggest preventable cause of cancer in women in about 25 years. At the moment, 12 percent of cancers in women are linked to smoking in the UK, and 7 percent are linked to obesity or being overweight. The current trends suggest that the number of smokers is falling, while the number of women who have excess weight is rising.
If these trends continue, smoking and obesity could be equal culprits by 2035, and obesity is expected to take the no.1 spot when it comes to preventable causes of cancer in women by 2043.
When it comes to men, given that there are more male than female smokers, obesity is set to become the leading preventable cause of cancer in men at a later time. It should be noted that obesity is more prevalent in men as well, but it poses a greater health danger to women. Types of cancer linked to smoking include acute myeloid leukemia, lung, bladder, bowel, cervical, pancreatic, and stomach cancer.
Cancers associated with being overweight or obese include bowel, gallbladder, kidney, liver, breast, ovarian, and thyroid cancer.
Researchers believe that the same strategy that was employed to reduce the number of smokers should be used again to educate the public on the danger of carrying excess weight in order to reduce the number of people who qualify as overweight or obese. Children who are overweight are five times more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, and levels of childhood obesity are on the rise across the globe.
With this in mind, a good place to start the anti-obesity campaign similar to the anti-smoking campaign we’ve seen everywhere over the past several decades or so is definitely a family or the parents of young children who are at risk or are already packing more than a few extra pounds.
Measures to reduce obesity certainly includes raising awareness about the link between cancer and being overweight given that surveys suggest that only one in seven women realizes there is a link, as well as special measures that protect children. Those measures include a ban on junk food commercials on TV before 9 pm and a ban or restrictions on promotions and price reductions of unhealthy food aimed at children.
Granted, it took decades of severe campaigning to reduce the number of smokers, as well as a political action such as higher taxes on tobacco products, a ban or restriction of marketing tobacco products, and a ban on smoking indoors or in some cases even in public places. Needless to say, this battle is not over, but it’s a good example of what could be done to fight obesity.
Experts agree that obesity is definitely the health challenge of this generation and it requires bold action sooner rather than later. They call obesity ‘the new smoking’, and remind the public that it doesn’t just increase the risk of various types of cancer, but also put people at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular problems and type two diabetes.
Notwithstanding the fact that not everyone who smokes or is overweight will develop cancer, people put themselves in harm’s way when they could take action and prevent many health problems by choosing a different lifestyle. There are factors that are linked to cancer we can’t affect, such as age and genes, but those that can be tackled should be tackled head-on, not just on the individual level, but for the population as a whole as well.
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Stephanie Hill is the Chief Editor of Healthy Fixation and blogs regularly on various blogs and health and fitness topics. Stephanie provides personal advice on the latest health news and recommendations on health related issues and products.