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High BMI and Diabetes May Be Increasing Global Cancer Burden

29 November 2017, 07:48 | Melissa Porter

High BMI and Diabetes May Be Increasing Global Cancer Burden

High BMI and Diabetes May Be Increasing Global Cancer Burden

Some 12 million Britons are at risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to experts.

Obesity and diabetes cause around 800,000 cancers a year, with women being almost twice as likely to suffer as men, new research reveals.

In the first study to estimate the cancer burden caused by common lifestyle factors, researchers from Imperial College London found that diabetes and obesity accounted for almost 6 per cent of new cancer cases.

One of the most credible reasons why cancer is linked with being overweight and having type 2 diabetes (in particular) comes down to insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is much more prevalent than type 1 diabetes so, these findings will have more relevance to type 2 diabetes than type 1 diabetes. In the United Kingdom, more than 1 in 4 men (26.9 per cent) are classed as obese, the highest prevalence of adult obesity in males in Europe.

Only Turkey (35.2 per cent) had a higher prevalence of obesity in females with 29.2 per cent of British women deemed to be obese.

The threshold for obesity is the weight of BMI or Body Mass Index - one kilo divided by a person's height (in centimeters) of squares - 30. Meanwhile, obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes.

The results were published November 28 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

For this risk assessment analysis, researchers determined the 2012 incidence rates of 12 cancer types in 175 countries.

Diabetes and high BMI was most likely to cause liver or bowel cancer in men and breast cancer or womb cancer in women.

'With nearly 12 million people in the United Kingdom at risk of type 2 diabetes, it's vital that people are supported to reduce their risk.

The global increase in diabetes between 1980 and 2002 accounted for a quarter of 800,000 cases, while the obesity epidemic over the same period resulted in 30 percent of additional cases. Similar increases in the number of people with high BMI led to 174,040 new cases of weight-related cancers (a 31.9 per cent increase) over the same time. There is growing evidence suggesting that diabetes is also related to myeloma, bladder, kidney, and oesophageal cancer, meaning the study may underestimate the burden of cancers due to diabetes. They matched the data sets by age group and sex to take account of age differences using diabetes and BMI data from 2002 to calculate cancer incidence in 2012 attributable to these risks.

Experts believe nearly 12 million people in the United Kingdom are at risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Dr Emily Burns, from the charity Diabetes UK, said: 'Diabetes doesn't directly cause cancer, but this study adds to the evidence that having diabetes can increase [the] risk of certain types of cancer.

"It is important that effective food policies are implemented to tackle the rising prevalence of diabetes, high BMI and the diseases related to these risk factors." says lead author Dr Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard, Imperial College London, UK.

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