More than 22,000 Britons suffer cancer every year because they are too fat, claim researchers.
Being obese or overweight heightens the risk of at least seven types of the disease, including breast, bowel, pancreatic, womb, kidney, oesophagus and gall bladder.
Academics from the World Cancer Research Fund say that excess fat is the second biggest cause of cancer after smoking.
They have calculated that being overweight or obese is directly responsible for 22,138 cases every year. This toll includes 7,752 cases of breast cancer, 5,753 of the bowel and 2,978 affecting the womb. The figure is far higher than previous estimates, which have linked being obese or overweight to 17,000 cases annually.
Last year just over 320,400 people were diagnosed with cancer, according to figures from Cancer Research UK. The latest calculations mean that 1 in 14 cases are caused by being overweight. Professor Alan Jackson, chairman of the WCRF panel which calculated the figures, said: ‘A significant number of cancer cases could be prevented by people maintaining a healthy body weight.
‘Through keeping levels of body fat low, a lot of people will avoid getting cancer in the first place – forestalling the pain and anguish associated with the disease.’ The WCRF is carrying out an ongoing study looking at existing research to try to estimate how many cancers are caused by people’s lifestyles.