Obesity behind Surge in Cancers

cruk-rfl-master-logoPeople in the North West are being encouraged to be more active, following new figures released by Cancer Research UK today (Monday 24 April) highlighting the link between obesity and kidney cancer.

An estimated 20,000 kidney cancer cases have been caused by obesity over the last decade in England, according to the charity.*

And in the North West alone, kidney cancer rates have increased by 67 per cent over the last 10 years.

A decade ago, around 655 people were diagnosed with kidney cancer every year in the North West. Today, around 1,230 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer every year in the region – around 730 men and 495 women.

Cancer Research UK projections show that by 2035 rates are predicted to increase by a further 26 per cent in the UK, making kidney cancer one of the fastest growing cancer types.

Around a quarter (24 per cent) of kidney cancer cases are linked to carrying excess weight, and 24 per cent are linked to smoking.

Alison Barbuti, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, said: “It can be challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle but just making a few small changes can have a real impact.

“One way for women to get a little more active is to sign up to take part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life events which are taking place across the North West.

“Race for Life is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy, Marathon and Hiking events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer sooner by funding vital research.”

Research shows that obesity is linked to 13 types of cancer, including kidney cancer. Scientists have yet to unravel exactly how being overweight or obese causes kidney cancer, but one explanation could be insulin resistance.

Insulin is a hormone which is important in the breakdown of carbohydrates and fats, and the kidneys help process this hormone in the body. Excess weight can lead to insulin resistance, which can cause levels of insulin to rise, telling cells to divide more rapidly.

While not all kidney cancer cases are preventable, there are steps that people can take to cut their risk of developing the disease. Simple things like choosing sugar-free drinks, eating meals at roughly the same time each day, and trying to hit 10,000 steps a day can all help in maintaining a healthy weight.

Alison continued: “Signing up to take part in Race for Life is a great way for women of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities to commit to get a little more active. Race for Life events are non-competitive and participants can choose to walk, jog or run around the course. There’s an event to suit everyone – it’s not about being fast or first over the finish line; it’s about coming together to beat cancer sooner.

“Money raised through Race for Life will help Cancer Research UK scientists find new ways to treat cancer and save more lives.”

Every year there are around 11,900 cases of kidney cancer in the UK – 7,400 cases in men and 4,500 cases diagnosed in women. And every year about 4,300 people die from the disease.

Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, said: “It’s concerning to see kidney cancer cases rising like this. Being overweight or obese is linked to 13 types of cancer, including kidney which is becoming more and more common.

“Similar to smoking, where damage to cells builds up over time and increases the risk of cancer, damage from carrying excess weight accumulates over a person’s lifetime.

“Making small changes in eating, drinking and being physically active that you can stick with in the long term, is a good way to get to a healthy weight – and stay there.”

Sign up for Race for Life now at raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.