Obesity will cause more cancers than smoking in 10 years

Academic studies from Harvard University have shown that obesity will take over smoking as the biggest cause of cancer in the next decade. Obesity has been linked to the most common types of tumors including those related to breast, prostate, bowel, womb, and cervical cancers. Annually, being overweight is already causing about 32,000 cancer-related deaths in the United Kingdom alone. The number is expected to rise in the years to come.

Aside from increasing the risks of getting cancer, obesity in itself can be the cause of death. Obesity has also been linked to heart diseases and illnesses. Obesity has been thought to raise the levels of some hormones in the body, thus encouraging the growth of tumors.

Lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Ligibel of Harvard Medical School in Boston said, “We are at a critical point now. The risks of cigarettes have become more known, so the prevalence is decreasing, but the rise in rates of obesity has really been staggering. People are aware that being overweight increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes, but not that it increases their risk of cancer, and their risk of dying from cancer.”

Graph showing the relationship between obesity and risk of cancers. Photo credit:

One study showed women with breast cancer were 75% more likely to die if they were obese at the time of diagnosis. Another showed very overweight women were six times more likely to develop womb cancer. In contrast, a third study showed patients who did high levels of exercise after being diagnosed were twice as likely to survive.

In the past 10 years, due to increased awareness, deaths caused by smoking have decreased by nearly 20%. The improvement is attributed to increasing cigarette prices and smoking being banned in public.

Some have already called on governments to do a similar campaign against obesity such as including a tax on sugar, but these polices have fallen on deaf ears. Despite the request to put higher taxation for firms selling sugary products to help reduce the percentage of overweight individuals, many consider this irrational as this would simply add to the daily expenses of citizens.

On a positive note, prevention for obesity is easier than holding down nicotine cravings as diet and exercise have been pegged as the standard treatment for cancer alongside chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Why risk getting cancer (along with a number of possible heart ailments) when you can simply shape up and exercise a little more?

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Written by KM Viray

Government employee from 8 to 5. Writer in between hours. Mom all day everyday.

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