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124,000 New Cancers In Europe Due to Obesity

ECCO/ESMO UPDATE — BERLIN 2009

Being overweight was a key reason for at least 124,000 new cancers in European countries in 2008, including nearly 24,000 from colorectal cancer.

3.2 percent of new cancer diagnoses in men and 8.8 percent of women’s cancers could be attributed to excessive body mass index (BMI).  This was a dramatic increase from  2002 that found 70,000 cases of cancer directly related to obesity out of 2.2 million European cancers overall.

Percentages of cases related to high BMI varied greatly among European countries with the from a low of 2.1% in women and 2.4% in men in Denmark, to 8.2% in women and 3.5% in men in the Czech Republic.

About 64 percent of new cases were attributed to just three cancers: endometrial cancer (33,421), post-menopausal breast cancer (27,770) and colorectal cancer (23,730).

Dr, Andrew Renehan, from the University of Manchester, in the United Kingdom led a analysis estimating the numbers of new cancers and their relationship to obesity.  The model built on information available from the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

He pointed out that as use of hormone replacement therapy decreased with its relationship to breast cancer, obesity emerged as a cause of new breast cancers.

Given the difficulty of addressing the epidemic of excessive weight gain in some European countries, Dr. Renehan called for new approaches to prevention of certain cancers with a strong obesity component.  He told the ECCO/ESMO conference,

The study also identifies priorities for research into certain cancers, namely endometrial, breast and colorectal cancers. In the face of an unabating obesity epidemic, and apparent failure of public health policies to control weight gain, there is a need to look at alternative strategies, including pharmacological approaches.

SOURCE: Renehan et al., European Journal of Cancer Supplements, Vol 7 No 2, September 2009, Page 79

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