Being overweight or obese is to blame for 23,000 cases of cancer a year in Britain, up from 17,000 cases seven years ago. Researchers at Cancer Research UK warn that if obesity continues to rise amongst Britons, it is set to overtake smoking as the main preventable cause of cancer.
According to recent detailed estimates, unhealthy living is the main cause of around one third of cancers, with one in 16 now down to being overweight or obese. Data from Cancer Research UK suggest that more than 2,500 cases of cancer a week could be avoided if people shunned tobacco, alcohol, bad diets and other habits now known to cause the disease.
Smoking remains the biggest lifestyle cause of cancer, and is responsible for 54,000 cases (15.1 %) annually. This figure is falling as more people kick the habit.
Being overweight is second, causing 6.3 % of all cancers in Britain. For women, the figure is 7.5 %, with obesity linked to breast and womb cancer.