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Obesity and risk of different cancers

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Around 5% of all cancers in middle aged and older women in the UK are attributable to being overweight or obese, suggests a large UK study.

Over a seven year period, researchers from Oxford University recruited 1.2 million women, aged 50-64, into the Million Women Study.

The authors found that an increasing body mass index was a major risk factor for endometrial cancer, with half of all cases being caused by obesity. A raised BMI also significantly increased the risk of developing ovarian, kidney and pancreatic cancer and, in some age groups, breast and bowel cancer.

‘Our research shows that being overweight has a much bigger impact on the risk of some cancers than others,’ the authors said. ‘Among women, hormonally related cancers such as those of the breast and endometrium have been among those most consistently associated with BMI.’

BMJ online first (2007) www.bmj.com

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