Obesity to double cancer deaths in next 40 years

Obesity epidemic to blame for rise in the disease

The alarming rate of obesity across the world will trigger a huge rise in cancer, says a new report led by Sir Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London.

About seven million people die from cancer worldwide every year, according to the most recent estimate by the World Cancer Research Fund, and that figure was expected to rise to more than 10 million by 2020.

The estimated number of new cases annually is set to increase from 10 million now to 16 million by 2020. Overall the toll is predicted to double in the next 40 years.

‘With the same sense of urgency that at long last we’re now starting to address the climate change agenda, let’s address the cancer agenda because we think that a large proportion of those cancer deaths are preventable or could be delayed,’ said Marmot.

The new report, to be published on Thursday, will not dwell on the issue of smoking because the science is now so well established. Instead its focus is on weight gain and obesity, which leads to around 13,000 cancer cases in the UK every year. Marmot said: ‘When we look at what’s happened to obesity levels in this country, it’s growing at an alarming rate. Anybody looking at the evidence would say there must be social and economic causes of that. It can’t be that 20 million people individually said, ‘I’ll think I’ll get fat.’’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Obesity is the biggest health challenge we face and many people simply don’t know that being overweight can lead to major health problems, including cancer. The UK is leading the world when it comes to facing up to the problem and tackling obesity.

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