LIFESTYLE

Obesity Rates Fuelling 'Worrying' Rise In Womb Cancer Cases, Charity Warns

The number of women being diagnosed with womb cancer has almost doubled in 20 years.

13/04/2016 09:41

Obesity is fuelling a huge jump in the number of women being diagnosed with womb cancer, experts have warned.

New data released by Cancer Research UK shows that the number of women being diagnosed with the disease has almost doubled in the past 20 years. 

From 1993 to 1995, around 19 women in every 100,000 developed womb cancer in the UK, rising to 29 women in every 100,000 by 2011-13 (the most recent figures available).

Around 9,000 women are now diagnosed with womb cancer every year in the UK - up from around 4,800 new cases per year 20 years ago.

Zena Holloway via Getty Images

Professor Jonathan Ledermann, director of the Cancer Research UK and UCL Cancer Trials Centre, told the Press Association it's "worrying" that womb cancer cases are going up so sharply.

"We don't know all the reasons why. But we do know that about a third of cases are linked to being overweight so it's no surprise to see the increases in womb cancer cases echo rising obesity levels," he said. 

"The good news is that thanks to research and improved treatments, survival has improved."

According to Professor Ledermann, in the 1970s almost six in 10 women diagnosed with the disease survived for at least 10 years. Now almost eight in 10 women survive.

"But we need more research to understand the biology of the disease better and to know more about how it is caused so that we can improve the treatment of these women as well as preventing more cases," he added. 

Earlier this year, Cancer Research UK warned that almost 700,000 more people could develop cancer in the next 20 years due to being overweight or obese.

A total of 10 types of cancer are linked to obesity, which can also lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and a range of other health problems.

The 10 types are of the womb, bowel, breast, gallbladder, liver, kidney, pancreas, oesophagus, and aggressive forms of ovarian and prostate cancer.

Symptoms of womb cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding (particularly in post-menopausal women), blood in the urine and abdominal pain. If the disease is caught early, most women can be treated with a hysterectomy.

Cancer Research UK said it was not completely clear how being overweight fuels cancer, but it is thought extra fat spurs on hormones and growth factors that encourage cells to divide.

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: "It's concerning that more women are developing womb cancer, but it's important that they are informed about ways to reduce their risk of the disease.

"Obesity is linked to 10 different types of cancer, including womb cancer, and is the single biggest preventable cause of the disease after smoking. While there are no guarantees against cancer, keeping a healthy weight can help you stack the odds in your favour and has lots of other benefits too."

Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, added: "We know that being overweight or obese increases our risk of some cancers, which is why it's important to keep an eye on portion sizes and cut back on calories, sugar and fat in the diet." 

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