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More than 20,000 cancer cases are avoidable by weight loss

More than 20,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year in the UK if the population was a healthy weight.

Research from the World Cancer Research Fund's Continuous Update Project (CUP) found 18% of the 123,000 weight-related cancer cases in the UK could be prevented annually. 

Currently, 63% of the UK population is either overweight or obese.

“A significant number of cancer cases could be prevented by people maintaining a healthy body weight,” said Professor Alan Jackson, Chair of the CUP panel and Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Southampton.

“Through keeping levels of body fat low, a lot of people will avoid getting cancer in the first place - forestalling the pain and anguish associated with the disease.”

The CUP report looked specifically at pancreatic cancer, which is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the UK.

Fewer than one in five patients survive the first year after diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, however, it is claimed 15% of new cases could be avoided every year by keeping body weight within a healthy range.

It was calculated that, from 8,383 annual cases of pancreatic cancer in the UK, 1,257 could be prevented through being a healthy weight.

Body weight also has an affect on risk for cancers of the breast, bowel, oesophagus, kidney, womb and gall bladder.