Excess weight and cancer risk

New figures from Cancer Research UK show that people who are obese now outnumber people who smoke two to one in the UK, and excess weight causes more cases of certain cancers than smoking.

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Almost a third of UK adults are obese and, while smoking is still the nation’s biggest preventable cause of cancer and carries a much higher risk of the disease than obesity, Cancer Research UK’s analysis revealed that being overweight or obese trumps smoking as the leading cause of four different types of cancer.

Excess weight causes around 1,900 more cases of bowel cancer than smoking in the UK each year. The same worrying pattern is true of cancer in the kidneys (1,400 more cases caused by excess weight than by smoking each year in the UK), ovaries (460) and liver (180).

The charity wants the Government to act on its ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030 and introduce a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts on TV and online, alongside other measures such as restricting promotional offers on unhealthy food and drinks.

Full story: Obese people outnumber smokers two to one| Cancer Research UK

See also: Obesity ’causes more cases of some cancers than smoking’ | BBC News

Obesity is second biggest cause of cancer after smoking

Obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking with around 22,800 cases of cancer in the UK caused by excess body weight every year | Cancer Research UK

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Image source: cancerresearchuk.org

Cancer Research UK has produced a resource containing answers to common questions from patients, tips on how to discuss weight management with patients who are overweight or obese and a campaign poster.

Free copies can be ordered from the Cancer Research UK website, where pharmacists and pharmacy staff can also sign up to receive future copies of the Cancer Insight newsletter.

How diet, nutrition and physical activity affect cancer risk

The World Cancer Research Fund have published an interactive infographic summarising risk factors for certain cancers.

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The full report summarises the wealth of evidence on how diet, nutrition and physical activity can influence the biological processes that underpin the development and progression of cancer.

The report contains the following 10 exposure sections, covering definitions and background information, issues relating to interpretation of the evidence, the evidence itself ( and judgements on the evidence.

View the Interactive Cancer Risk Matrix

Full report: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective

The association of lifetime alcohol use with mortality and cancer risk in older adults

The risk of mortality, and of developing a number of cancers, is lowest in light drinkers consuming an average of less than one drink per day across their lifetime, and the risk of some cancers increases with each additional drink per week, according to a new study.

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Abstract

Background
While current research is largely consistent as to the harms of heavy drinking in terms of both cancer incidence and mortality, there are disparate messages regarding the safety of light-moderate alcohol consumption, which may confuse public health messages. We aimed to evaluate the association between average lifetime alcohol intakes and risk of both cancer incidence and mortality.

Methods and findings
We report a population-based cohort study using data from 99,654 adults (68.7% female), aged 55–74 years, participating in the U.S. Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. Cox proportional hazards models assessed the risk of overall and cause-specific mortality, cancer incidence (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer), and combined risk of cancer and death across categories of self-reported average lifetime alcohol intakes, with adjustment for potential confounders.

During 836,740 person-years of follow-up (median 8.9 years), 9,599 deaths and 12,763 primary cancers occurred. Positive linear associations were observed between lifetime alcohol consumption and cancer-related mortality and total cancer incidence. J-shaped associations were observed between average lifetime alcohol consumption and overall mortality, cardiovascular-related mortality, and combined risk of death or cancer.

In comparison to lifetime light alcohol drinkers (1–3 drinks per week), lifetime never or infrequent drinkers (<1 drink/week), as well as heavy (2–<3 drinks/day) and very heavy drinkers (3+ drinks/day) had increased overall mortality and combined risk of cancer or death. This analysis is limited to older adults, and residual confounding by socioeconomic factors is possible.

Conclusions
The study supports a J-shaped association between alcohol and mortality in older adults, which remains after adjustment for cancer risk. The results indicate that intakes below 1 drink per day were associated with the lowest risk of death.

Full reference: Kunzmann, A. T. et al. | The association of lifetime alcohol use with mortality and cancer risk in older adults: A cohort study | PLOS Medicine | June 19, 2018
See also: ScienceDaily | Risks of cancer and mortality by average lifetime alcohol intake

Impact of chronic diseases on cancer risk

Several common chronic diseases together account for more than a fifth of new cancer cases and more than a third of cancer deaths| BMJ | via ScienceDaily

Findings from research published in the BMJ show that the cancer risks from common chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are as important as those from five major lifestyle factors combined.

A team of researchers  investigated the combined effect of eight common chronic diseases or disease markers on cancer risk compared with lifestyle factors. Among the conditions evaluated were cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary disease, and gouty arthritis.

The researchers found that cardiovascular disease markers, diabetes, chronic kidney disease markers, pulmonary disease, and gouty arthritis marker were individually associated with risk of developing cancer or cancer death.

Together, these chronic diseases and markers accounted for more than one fifth of all new cancers and more than one third of all cancer deaths in this study population, which was similar to the contribution of five major lifestyle risk factors combined — smoking, insufficient physical activity, insufficient fruit and vegetable intake, alcohol consumption, and obesity.

The researchers also found that physical activity was associated with a nearly 40% reduction in the excess risks of cancer and cancer death associated with chronic diseases and markers.

However, the authors point out that chronic diseases are not targeted in current cancer prevention strategies — and say their findings have important implications for developing new strategies that target chronic diseases.

Full detail at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Huakang Tu et al. |  Cancer risk associated with chronic diseases and disease markers: prospective cohort study | BMJ 2018

Eating plenty of wholegrains cuts your risk of bowel cancer, according to a new report.

Wholegrains and bowel cancer – what you need to know | CRUK

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Eating plenty of wholegrains cuts your risk of bowel cancer, according to a new report. And it seems we can reap the benefits without making wild changes to our diets .

The news comes from a report produced by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), outlining the latest evidence on how we can reduce our risk of bowel cancer.

It focusses on the effects of diet, weight, physical activity and alcohol on bowel cancer risk. And with bowel cancer being the fourth most common cancer in the UK, finding ways to reduce our risk of the disease are important.

The WCRF studies all the evidence on a potential cause of cancer and decides whether that evidence is strong enough to support recommendations on ways we can reduce our risk.

How the alcohol industry mislead the public about alcohol and cancer

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of several types of cancer, including several common cancers | Drug and Alcohol Review

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As part of their corporate social responsibility activities, the alcohol industry (AI) disseminates information about alcohol and cancer. We examined the information on this which the AI disseminates to the public through its ‘social aspects and public relations organizations’ and related bodies. The aim of the study was to determine its comprehensiveness and accuracy.

Most of the organisations were found to disseminate misrepresentations of the evidence about the association between alcohol and cancer. Three main industry strategies were identified:

  1.  denial/omission: denying, omitting or disputing the evidence that alcohol consumption increases cancer risk.
  2. distortion: mentioning cancer, but misrepresenting the risk.
  3. distraction: focussing discussion away from the independent effects of alcohol on common cancers. Breast cancer and colorectal cancer appeared to be a particular focus for this misrepresentation.

Full reference: Petticrew, M. et al. (2017) How alcohol industry organisations mislead the public about alcohol and cancer. Drug and Alcohol Review. Published online: 7 Septmeber 2017