People should keep their weight within the body-mass index (BMI) range of 18 to 25 in order to minimise the risk of cancer, according to a leading expert.
Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser for the World Cancer Research Fund, says that staying slim would help thousands avoid breast, bowel, oesophagus, kidney, pancreas, womb and gallbladder cancers.
The index classifies 18 as underweight, 18 to 25 as healthy, 25 to 30 as overweight and over 30 is obese.
The WCRF says that even within the healthy-weight range, as low a body weight as as possible without actually becoming underweight is ideal, meaning a BMI of 18 rather than 25. A person at the top of the healthy weight range is 15% more likely to develop bowel cancer.
Says Professor Wiseman: ‘We need to do more work to spread the message that maintaining a healthy weight is something positive people can do to reduce their risk of developing cancer later in life.’
If people eat healthily, take more exercise and maintain a healthy weight, one in three of the most common cancers might be prevented, say the experts.