Cancer caused by obesity could overrun healthcare systems expert warns

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A PUBLIC health expert has warned that healthcare systems could be overrun unless greater efforts are made to research links between obesity and cancer

Professor of Public Health Nutrition, Annie Anderson has said that large scale trials are needed to demonstrate the correlation of fat reduction reducing cancer rates.

The University of Dundee Professor has called on the global scientific community to further study links between the disease with changes in body fat and physical activity.

Professor Annie Anderson. - Health News Scotland
Professor Annie Anderson has called for the global scientific community to come together to research the links between weight and cancer.

Worldwide, excess weight is associated with the development of at least 480,000 new cancer cases each year.

Previous studies have indicated that improving body composition, decreasing body weight, and maintaining that reduced weight, will reduce the risk of developing cancers.

 Professor Anderson said: “There is an urgent need to consider the long-term effects of weight loss and obesity on cancer risk reduction in a trial environment,”

“There are gaps in our knowledge that need to be urgently addressed and only large-scale trials will help the scientific community to better understand these links.

“Failing to do so puts the healthcare systems of tomorrow at risk of being overrun.”

Gaps in scientific knowledge  of how changes in body fat and physical activity levels impact directly upon decreased cancer levels remain.

In addition, understanding how planned weight loss in people who are obese impacts on cancer survivors remains a relatively unexplored area.

In research published in the British Journal of Cancer, Professor Anderson and colleagues show how robust, large-scale intervention trials are urgently required to improve knowledge of these links to better inform the scientific community.

Professor Anderson said that such trials would also greatly benefit public health guidance, which she believes has not effectively communicated the links between weight and cancer.

“The UK has a sugar tax as a deterrent to consuming unhealthy foods, and the links between sugar and diabetes are commonly known,” she added.

“Some people seem willing to take a calculated gamble with diabetes because it can be managed, but cancer is something very different.

“Reducing the risk of being diagnosed with cancer is important to all of us and understanding how changing body composition by decreasing excess calorie intake, building muscle and managing weight is a key research priority.”