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Excess body weight boosts risk of 10 common cancers: study

PARIS -- Being overweight boosts the risk of 10 common cancers, said a study of five million UK adults that prompted a call Thursday for tougher anti-obesity measures.

Researchers calculated that 12,000 cases of these 10 cancers every year in the UK were attributable to excess body weight.

And if current trends continue, “there could be over 3,500 extra cancers every year as a result,” said a statement issued with the study, the largest of its kind, published in The Lancet medical journal.

Measured as a ratio of weight in kilograms-to-height in meters squared, a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and 30 plus as obese.

“Each five kg/m2 increase in BMI was clearly linked with higher risk of cancers of the uterus (62 percent increase), gallbladder (31 percent), kidney (25 percent), cervix (10 percent), thyroid (nine percent), and leukaemia (nine percent),” said a statement.

Higher BMI also increased the overall risk of cancer of the liver (19 percent), colon (10 percent), ovaries (nine percent) and breast (five percent), although the effect on these four types was influenced by other factors.

Even within normal height-to-weight ranges, people with higher BMI numbers were more at risk, the researchers found.

Conversely, those with high BMI seemed to be at a slightly lower risk of developing prostate and premenopausal breast cancer.

The researchers used patient records on a nationwide data network and identified 5.24 million individuals aged 16 and older who were cancer-free when they were first registered.

Their health status was followed for an average 7.5 years, during which period nearly 167,000 in the group developed some form of cancer.

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