A new poll has worryingly revealed that four in 10 adults in the UK are not aware of the link between obesity and cancer.
This revelation is particularly troubling given the startling fact that 62% of the UK adult population are classed as overweight or obese and are, therefore, at an increased risk of developing 10 different types of cancer, including bowel, breast, womb, oesophageal, pancreatic, gastric cardia, kidney, liver and most likely ovarian, gallbladder and aggressive prostate cancers.. Health experts have described the findings of the poll as “alarming”.
The poll, for World Cancer Research Fund, also found that over half (54%) of UK adults are unaware that a lack of exercise, or physical inactivity, can increase their risk of cancer. Furthermore, two-fifths are not aware that poor dietary choices can lead to an increased risk of cancer, while 43% indicated that they aren’t aware of the link between alcohol and cancer.
Not smoking is the number one life choice that people can make to reduce their risk of developing cancer. Being a healthy weight is the second most important.
World Cancer Research Fund estimates that around 24,000 cancer cases a year in the UK could be prevented if people chose to eat healthily, be physically active and maintain a healthy body weight.
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.
“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.
Lifestyle Changes Don’t Need to be Difficult
She added that lifestyle changes that reduce a person’s risk of cancer don’t have to be too difficult. Even simple things like cutting down on foods that are high in calories, as well as sugary drinks and alcohol, or just 10 to 15 minutes of physical activity each day can reduce a person’s risk.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund poll, adults in Wales are least aware that being obese, physically inactive, drinking alcohol and eating a poor diet all increase the risk of cancer.
People living in Yorkshire and the Humber were found to be least likely to know about the link between a lack of exercise and an increased risk of cancer. People in the West Midlands were least likely to know about the link between drinking alcohol and an increased risk of cancer.
The findings of the World Cancer Research Fund poll come as the number of Britons with diabetes has topped four million for the first time ever, with soaring obesity levels thought to be one of the main contributing factors.
In just a decade, the number of people in Britain with diabetes has increased by two-thirds, according to figures released by Diabetes UK, and if the trend continues experts believe that there will be around five million people with the illness in the UK by 2025.
Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew said the need to tackle the illness has “never been so stark,” adding: “It is vital that we start to see people with diabetes receive good quality care wherever they live rather than them being at the mercy of a postcode lottery.”
He called on the government to take active steps to address the worrying situation.
Exercise, alcohol intake, smoking and diet are all factors which can increase the chance of cancer. Some insurers offer schemes and incentives to help their members give up smoking, exercise more and generally become healthier. Doing these things can have a positive impact on premiums for health insurance as well as the obvious benefits to people’s wellbeing.
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