Healthy living * Weight loss

Survey exposes ignorance of obesity cancer risk

obesity major risk factor for cancer 97% don't know about the link between weight and cancer

Obesity is a major risk factor for cancer – but a staggering 97% of us don’t know about this link, according to a new survey from Cancer Research UK.

Of the over 4,000 people questioned only 3% thought that maintaining a healthy body weight reduced their risk of cancer.

And just 11% thought that protecting your skin was important despite skin cancer being one of the most common cancers in the UK with over 70,000 new cases every year.

On a more positive note two thirds of the people surveyed mentioned giving up smoking as a way to reduce their risk and almost 60% knew that food and diet was important. 29% also recognised that exercising more could make a difference.

Cancer experts have estimated that over 13,000 people could avoid developing cancer each year if everyone managed to maintain a healthy weight.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Encouraging people to change their behaviour is often difficult, but the first step is to build awareness that these changes are worth making.”

"While many people may associate weight with being healthy in general, this survey shows that most people don’t link it directly with their risk of cancer, or don’t know how much it can reduce their risk."

She also added: "Carrying extra weight means producing more chemicals in our bodies that can cause cancer to develop.”

"We know it can be hard to make long-lasting changes to our lifestyles, like quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol. But it’s important that people are aware of the things that they can do – and the extent to which these changes will affect their cancer risk – so that they can make informed choices."

More information

Cancer Research UK survey results

This article was published on Wed 5 August 2009

Image © Sheila Eames -

Related Stories

Use this story

Link to this page
Printer friendly version

Share this page