Obesity raises the risk of these 10 cancers – take the test to measure your threat level

BEING obese can raise your risk of developing ten common cancers, experts have claimed.

Researchers now say that combining body mass index (BMI) along with body shape is a better indicator of cancer risk than just using BMI alone.

In recent months the use of the BMI has been criticised with many experts saying it is no longer an accurate way to measure whether or not someone is healthy.

When it comes to obesity and its links to cancer, most evidence is based on BMI – with experts not taking into account body fat.

Being obsese is linked to an elevated risk of some cancers and premature deaths – but instead of just measuring BMI, experts now say that other tests should also be conducted to determine whether or not a person is at risk.

Researchers in the UK studied 437,393 adults to investigate their risk of developing and dying from various cancers.

Writing in the BMC Medicine Journal, experts found that the patients who were overweight were more likely to have developed ten different cancers.

Patients who were overweight were most at risk of developing endometrial cancer (cancer of the womb) with their risk being 73 per cent higher.

Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking

Those who were overweight were also more likely to develop uterine cancer (68 per cent), stomach cancer (35 per cent), gallbladder (33 per cent), liver (27 per cent), kidney (26 per cent), pancreas (12 per cent), colorectal (ten per cent), bladder, (nine per cent) and postmenopausal breast cancer (eight per cent).

The experts also found that the patients who were overweight were three per cent more likely to get any type of cancer than those at a healthy weight.

Looking at the results above, the experts stated that if they were based solely on obesity being the cause for the cancers then being obese could be responsible for around 40 per cent of endometrial cancers and uterine cancers.

The study also found that obesity could be responsible for 29 per cent of gallbladder cancers; and could account for 64 per cent, 46 per cent, and 40 per cent of deaths from these cancers respectively.

TAKE THE TEST

If you're conscious of whether or not your weight is putting you at risk of cancer, then there are measures you can take to estimate your risk.

As part of the study the experts took six specific measurements to help them determine if someone was overweight or obese.

First they used the BMI – BMI tools evaluate your age, gender, height and weight, before estimating your BMI.

Those who have a BMI of 18.5-25 are considered to be a healthy weight.

If your number is between 25 and 30 you are considered overweight and if it goes above 30 you're considered obese.

The NHS recommends people stay within the healthy weight for their age and height.

The experts then measured how much of each person's body was made up of fat.

There are a number of ways to measure this including skinfold measurements – callipers or “the pinch test” you can also use smart scales and some weighing scales in gyms have a body fat measurement built into them.

Researchers also measured waist-to-hip ratio, the British Heart Foundation states that "this is the ratio of waist circumference to the hip circumference, the higher the ratio, the more fat is stored around the waist or abdomen".

Next is the weight to height ratio, and waist and hip circumferences.

The experts say that this is called the "A Body Shape Index" (ABSI).

They devised this due tot the fact that BMI does not take into account muscle, or where fat is stored on the body.

They said that waist circumference takes into account belly fat – which is linked to several health risks including cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer.

What is the string test?

THERE’S a simple test you can do at home to find out if you are too fat, and all you need is a piece of string.

The test will also give you an idea if you are at risk of obesity related illnesses like heart disease or stroke.

All you need to do is take a piece of string and cut it to the same length as your height.

Next you need to fold it in half, then wrap it around your waist.

If the string meets or overlaps then you are a healthy weight, but if you can't make the ends meet then your visceral fat levels are too high.

Your visceral fat is the fat that sits around your vital organs in your abdomen.

Too much of it can lead to disease like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The ABSI index takes into account age, sex, weight, height and waist circumference–and it may provide a more accurate estimate of cancer risk than BMI.

You can also use the string test to calculate whether or not you're at risk.

All you need to do is take a piece of string and cut it to the same length as your height.

Next you need to fold it in half, then wrap it around your waist.

If the string meets or overlaps then you are a healthy weight, but if you can't make the ends meet then your visceral fat levels are too high.

Dr Carlos Celis-Morales from the University of Glasgow said the findings show the importance of measuring more than just BMI when predicting cancer risk, and suggests that people's body shape may increase their risk of certain cancers.

"Whatever method you use, being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.

"More urgent actions are needed to help people maintain a healthy bodyweight and shape throughout their lives, starting at an early age", Dr Celis-Morales said.

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