Cancer rates to rise six times faster for women
Cancer rates in women will rise at six times the rate of that in men as the obesity timebomb hits females harder, new forecasts show.
Data published by Cancer Research UK shows that unhealthy lifestyles are contributing to a rise in cancer cases among both sexes, with women bearing the brunt of the increase.
The charity urged women to "cut out the treats" in a bid to reduce their risk of disease, warning that obesity is second only to smoking as the biggest preventable cause of cancer.
In the next 20 years, cancer rates will climb nearly six times faster in women than in men, its research shows. Rates will rise by around 0.5pc for men and 3pc for women.
The trend is the result of soaring rates of obesity, with two thirds of all British adults now overweight or obese.
While obesity rates are even higher among men than women, many of the cancers most closely linked to weight are primarily or exclusively female diseases - including breast, womb and ovarian cancer.
The rise in cancer rates among women is also being fuelled by an increase in female smoking in recent decades and by female alcohol consumption, the charity said.
Although smoking rates are now falling across the UK, lung cancer is continuing to rise, reflecting the number of women who took up smoking in the 1960s, when the habit was already popular among men.
Prof Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "After smoking, being overweight is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer, and has been linked to 13 different types. Ovarian, womb and post-menopausal breast cancer all happen more often to people carrying too much weight."
He urged lifestyle changes to reduce the chance of cancer.
"Taking regular exercise and avoiding too many treats is a good way to reduce your risk. We all know it's not always easy to maintain a healthy weight, but even small steps can help," he said.
More than eight million people die from cancer each year globally - more than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis put together, the charity warned.
Breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer are the most common cancers, accounting for more than half of new cases each year in the UK.
Currently around 18,000 Britons a year develop cancer because they are overweight, a figure which is predicted to reach 56,000 people a year by 2035.
Spiralling rates of obesity meant that cancer was now increasingly being diagnosed up to two decades earlier than in the past, doctors have warned, with people "eating their way towards an early death". (© Daily Telegraph London)