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'increases the riskof cancer'

People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing cancer, a major new study suggests.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine gathered data on 5.2 million people in the UK, of whom nearly 170,000 developed cancer, and found that a person's Body Mass Index - a measure of body fat - was linked to 17 out of 22 cancers.

The findings, published in the Lancet medical journal, suggest BMI was "positively associated" with the 10 most common cancers including uterus, cervix, thyroid, kidney, liver and colon. Post-menopausal breast cancer and leukaemia were also a heightened risk.


A person is deemed to be overweight if they have a BMI score - calculated using their weight and height - of 25 to 30 and are obese if it is above 30.

The study also suggested that if waistlines continued to grow, there could be 3,790 more cancer sufferers per year.

Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran, who led the study, said 12,000 cases of the 10 most common cancers could be attributed to obesity.

"It is well recognised that this is likely to cause more diabetes and cardiovascular disease," he said. "If these trends continue, we can also expect to see more cancers as a result. The higher the BMI, the higher the risk."

It comes after a report by Nuffield Health in April showed many people were unaware they were overweight or of the health risks it could lead to.