Nearly half of adults do not know being overweight increases the risk of developing cancer, worrying new figures show.
Some 41 per cent of the British adult population are unaware that weight is strongly linked the disease, a poll by the World Cancer Research Fund found.
Cancer charities have called the figures ‘alarming’, given that 62 per cent of English adults are currently overweight or obese.
Some 41 per cent of adults do not know eating a poor diet increases the risk of cancer. There are 84,000 cases of cancer a year that could be prevented through people making healthy lifestyle choices, experts said today
Around 40 per cent of adults do not know being overweight increases the risk of cancer, and 54 per cent are unaware being physically inactive raises the chances, according to new figures from the World Cancer Fund
Being overweight, which is defined as having a Body Mass Index of more than 25, increases the risk of developing 10 different cancers including bowel, breast, liver and pancreatic cancer.
It also raises the risk of kidney, womb, ovary, gallbladder and advanced prostate cancer.
Furthermore, the poll found 54 per cent of those questioned were not aware that a lack of physical activity can increase cancer risk.
And 40 per cent did not realise eating a poor diet raises the chances, while 43 per cent had no idea drinking alcohol does, too.
Across the country, Welsh adults were the least aware that all these factors increase the risk of the disease.
Those in Yorkshire and Humber were the least likely to know about the link between lack of exercise and cancer, while those in West Midlands were in the dark about the link between drinking alcohol and the chance of developing cancer.
More than 40 per cent of people don’t know that drinking alcohol raises the risk. The World Cancer Research Fund is urging people to stick to New Year’s resolutions that will lower their risk of the disease
Maintaining a healthy weight could prevent 24,000 cases of cancer a year, the charity said. Pictured is a table of how many of each type of cancer could be prevented if people kept themselves in a healthy shape
When it comes to knowing how poor diet affects the risk, adults in the East of England were the least aware of the connection.
After not smoking, being a healthy weight is the most important thing people can do to reduce their cancer risk, the charity says.
It estimates around a third of the most common cancers could be prevented through choosing a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight.
BEING FAT RAISES THE RISK OF 10 TYPES OF CANCER
There is strong evidence that being overweight increases the risk of 10 cancers:
Source: World Cancer Research Fund
This amounts to about 84,000 cases a year in the UK.
This includes 24,000 which could be avoided if everyone maintained a healthy weight.
The charity has launched a new campaign called ‘I CAN’ to improve low levels of awareness and encourage people to take action.
It will urge will help people to stick to healthy New Year’s resolutions that could reduce their cancer risk.
Amanda McLean, Director at World Cancer Research Fund UK, said: ‘It is worrying that so many people are still not aware that being overweight can increase their chances of developing cancer.
‘In fact our research has shown that about 24,000 cancer cases in the UK could be avoided if everyone was a healthy weight.
‘This New Year we hope people will get behind our campaign, “I CAN”, and make small changes to their lifestyles – they could make a huge difference to their health.
‘It doesn’t have to be anything too difficult – cutting down on high calorie foods and sugary drinks, drinking less alcohol, or even 10 to 15 extra minutes each day of physical activities such as brisk walking could all decrease a person’s cancer risk.’
For more information on the ICAN campaign, please visit www.wcrf-uk.org/ican.