Azara Blog: Increased weight correlated with increased cancer risk

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Date published: 2007/11/07

The BBC says:

About 6,000 middle-aged or older women in the UK develop cancer each year because they are obese or overweight, a Cancer Research UK-funded study says.

The study, which looked at 45,000 cases of cancer in 1m women over seven years, says this is about 5% of such cases.

It is published online by the British Medical Journal and blames excess fat for 50% of cases of womb cancer and a type of oesophageal cancer.

Last week an international study warned of the link between cancer and weight.

The World Cancer Research Fund warned that carrying excess weight significantly increased the risk of cancer.
Lead researcher Dr Gillian Reeves, from Oxford University, said: "We estimate that being overweight or obese accounts for around 6,000 out of a total 120,000 new cases of cancer each year among middle-aged and older women in the UK.

"Our research also shows that being overweight has a much bigger impact on the risk of some cancers than others.

"Two thirds of the additional 6,000 cancers each year due to overweight or obesity would be cancers of the womb or breast."

The research found that the link between weight and risk of cancer depended on a woman's stage of life.

For example, being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer only after the menopause and the risk of bowel cancer only before the menopause.

As usual, all we have here is a correlation, not a causation, but the article is biased to imply that we have a causation. Of course there could be a causation here. But it might even go in the opposite direction. People who are ill (visibly or not) might be more likely to do less exercise and so be more likely to have increased weight. So being ill could lead to increased weight just as much as increased weight could lead to being ill. Of course the chattering classes (led by the BBC) want to demonise overweight people, so all stories these days have to imply it is that which is the cause of everything else.

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