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A recent study published in the Lancet medical journal confirmed the frightening link between high body-mass index (BMI) and an increased risk of contracting 10 of the most common cancers.
The researchers estimate that over 12,000 cases of these 10 cancers each year are in some way attributable to high BMI.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in collaboration with the Farr Institute of Health Informatics conducted a population-based cohort study of more than 5.2 million UK adults, monitoring changes to their health over a period of seven years.
The study is the largest and most holistic to date to confirm the link between BMI and cancer, and complements the findings from a World Health Organisation report released earlier in the year that cited obesity as the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in Australia.
Lead author of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine study, Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran, said: "The number of people who are overweight or obese is rapidly increasing worldwide. It is well recognised that this is likely to cause more diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our results show that if these trends continue, we can also expect to see more cancers as a result."
Dr Bhaskaran explained: "There was a lot of variation in the effects of BMI on different cancers. For some cancers like breast cancer occurring in younger women before the menopause, there even seemed to be a lower risk at higher BMI. This variation tells us that BMI must affect cancer risk through a number of different processes, depending on the cancer type."