A new study from Cancer Research UK and published in the Journal of Public Health surveyed 3293 adults, representative of the UK population. The results from this study showed that the majority of people in the UK do not understand the connection between weight issues and cancer.
Obesity is associated with thirteen types of cancer, including breast, kidney, bowel, and womb cancer. However, researchers found that only a quarter (25.4%) of respondents listed cancer as a health issue related to being overweight in answer to an unprompted question. Obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, and 63% of the English and 67% of the Scottish adult population is overweight.
In addition, people from a lower income group were more likely to be overweight or obese and less aware of the link between weight issues and cancer.
Dr Jyotsna Vohra, from Cancer Research UK and study co-author, said: “We’re very concerned that most people simply don’t connect cancer with obesity. This study shows that only one in four know that excess weight increases the risk of cancer so we need to make the link very clear. This may go some way towards tackling the obesity epidemic, which all too often begins in childhood.
“Our study also showed that GPs aren’t discussing weight with patients who are too heavy as often as they might. GPs have very little time during their appointments and should have more support to introduce sensitive issues, such as obesity, with patients.”