One cancer death a day is blamed on excess weight
Published 11/12/2015 | 02:30
Almost one person a day is now dying of cancer in Ireland due to being overweight, according to a new study.
Another two people are being given a cancer diagnosis every day due to their weight.
Overall, around 310 preventable cancer deaths annually are attributable to excess body weight, the findings from the HSE national Cancer Control Programme found.
The report calculates for the first time the contribution that overweight and obesity are making to the incidence of cancer and deaths from the disease among adults in Ireland.
It estimates that overweight and obesity has caused 4,157 cancers in men and 3,682 cancers in women over a decade.
This is equivalent to two new cancers a day, the report presented to the public health winter meeting at the Royal College of Physicians showed.
It pointed out that cancer and excess body weight are now significant public health problems in Ireland.
Since 1994, when the National Cancer Registry started recording data, there has been an annual increase of around 1pc in cancer incidence annually.
The researchers looked at cancers linked to being overweight.
They include cancers of the bowel, gallbladder, kidney, oesophagus, and ovary. It also includes post-menopausal breast cancer.
Separate research has already indicated that after not smoking, being a healthy weight is the most important thing a person can due to reduce their risk of cancer.
Extra fat in the body can have harmful effects, producing hormones and growth factors that affect the way cells work. This can raise the risk of several diseases, including cancer.
Excess fat changes the levels of hormones, like oestrogen and testosterone, in the body.
Fat cells also produce many other chemical messengers which affect how the body works.
The hormone insulin is a very important part of how the body uses energy from food.
When people are overweight or obese, there is much more insulin present in the body.
It is not clear how this could lead to cancer, although high insulin levels are a common feature of many cancers.
Too much belly fat around the middle is linked to higher risk of bowel, kidney, oesophageal, pancreatic, breast, and womb cancers.
It is now known how fast certain chemicals from fat can get into the blood.
The most recent figures from the Department of Health show that 37pc of the population is of normal weight. But 37pc are overweight and a further 23pc are obese.
Projections shows that the incidence of cancer in Ireland is expected to double by 2040. With the exception of leukemia in men, the number of cancers is forecast to increase for all cancer types between 2010 and 2040.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity will contribute to this rise along with other factors such as ageing. The Irish Cancer Society advises people to eat smarter and to remain active, also keeping an eye of portion sizes.
Alcohol also increases cancer risk and alcoholic drinks are also very high in calories.