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Majority do not understand cancer and obesity link

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Reducing weight can lower the risk of cancer Reducing weight can lower the risk of cancer

Over 75% people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to a new Cancer Research UK report.

The report found that men are less likely than women to be aware of the increased risk of cancer caused by obesity, while those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are also more likely to not understand the link. According to Cancer Research UK, being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to an estimated 18,100 cancer cases each year in the UK.

‘Cancer isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds when talking about obesity and that’s really concerning,’ said Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK. ‘Few understand that excess weight increases the risk of several cancers, including some of the most common such as breast cancer.’

The survey also showed that more than three-quarters of respondents did not know obesity was linked specifically to ovarian cancer. A further 69% did not know there was a link with breast cancer and more than half did not know pancreatic cancer was linked to obesity. More positively, there was improved awareness of the link with bowel cancer with 60% of those surveyed knowing the association and 55% of people linked obesity with liver cancer.

‘Cancers linked to obesity have the potential to lead not only to private grief and tragedy, but also to a situation where the NHS cannot cope with a serious and widespread health crisis,’ said Helen Donovan, RCN Professional Lead for Public Health. ‘Good public health work by expert nurses can make a huge difference, improving awareness and helping people to lead healthier lives before problems arise.’

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