Today (February 4th) is World Cancer Day. As the UK’s leading weight loss surgery provider, we asked our expert surgeons and dieticians to help explain the link between obesity and cancer.
Research shows that more than one in 20 cancer cases are caused by excess weight, and obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK. The risk of developing the disease is increased the more weight you gain and the longer you are overweight.
Studies also show that keeping a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing 13 different types of cancer. These include:
- Breast and bowel
- Pancreatic, esophageal and gallbladder
- Womb and ovarian
- Kidney, liver and upper stomach
- Myeloma (a type of blood cancer)
- Meningioma (a type of brain tumour)
This is just one of the reasons why we want people to understand what weight loss options are available to them – particularly for those who are at serious risk of obesity-related complications and are unable to lose weight through diet and exercise alone.
“Research shows there is a significant link between obesity and the increased risk of many types of cancer, so while being overweight certainly doesn’t mean that you will develop the disease, it does mean you are at higher risk than if you are a healthy weight.”Martin Richardson, our medical director and one of our highly experienced weight loss surgeons, said: “Over a quarter of the UK population is living with obesity and the number of people experiencing weight problems is expected to rise very significantly in the next 20 years – so the health crisis is time critical.
He added: “Although the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, obesity leads to hormonal imbalance exacerbated by excess fat sending growth type hormones (signals) to the rest of the cells in our bodies telling them to grow. These changes also stimulate an immune reaction that leads to low grade inflammation. Both of these can cause cells to divide more quickly which can, in turn, increase the likelihood of cancer.
“Being significantly overweight has well recognised dangers. Not only can it increase the chance of cancer, but it also substantially increases the risk of developing health problems such as diabetes, heart problems and stroke to name just a few.”
For many people, lockdown may have led to weight gain as they turn to food or drink for comfort or as a result of increased periods of inactivity. In one of our recent research projects the data collected showed that 64% of those surveyed claim they have put on weight during lockdown, with 12% gaining 6kg or more. Eating due to feeling bored was the main cause for 68% of people.
In some instances, this may have pushed those who were previously classed as overweight into the obese category (with a BMI of 30 or above), and those in the obese category into a worse position. This is particularly dangerous during the current climate as not only does it pose wider health implications such as the onset of diabetes and cancer, but those with a BMI of between 35 and 40 have a 40% increase in the risk of death due to Covid-19, which increases to 90% for those with a BMI above 40.
However, weight loss surgery can play an important part in tackling severe obesity and related conditions.
Mr Richardson added: “Many people view weight loss surgery as a ‘quick fix’ option, but this isn’t really the case. Thorough consultations are extremely important in making sure this route is the right option for individuals and eligibility criteria are met.
“Within the next five years, a higher percentage of the population will become obese and the bill for treating obesity-related illnesses in the UK is predicted to reach around £23.4 bn. However, we can help tackle this and alleviate pressure on the NHS. Research demonstrates bariatric surgery outcomes include: dramatically improving or even immediately reversing type two diabetes, significant early and sustained weight loss, and a reduction in heart attacks, development of diabetes, cancers and strokes and increased life expectancy.”
There are many surgical and non-surgical weight loss options available to you through The Hospital Group, including gastric bands, gastric bypasses, gastric sleeves and the self-administered weight loss treatment. Specialist dieticians are also on hand to offer nutrition and diet advice. For your free consultation, click the link below.
 A Censuswide survey of 1001 UK respondents living with obesity, conducted on behalf of Transform Hospital Group, between 22 and 24 September 2020.