Carrying extra inches around the waist can increase the risk of bowel cancer, according to new research.
Experts, speaking at the 23rd United European Gastroenterology Week in Barcelona, revealed evidence of a link between excess body weight and an increased risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer.
Per five unit increase in Body Mass Index (BMI), the new data showed that an overall increase of 18n per cent in relative risk of bowel cancer.
This is according to John Mathers, professor of Human Nutrition from the Institute of Cellular Medicine at Newcastle University, who said that there were further incentives for men to maintain a healthy body weight in order to reduce the likelihood of developing bowel cancer.
Professor Mathers said: “In addition, in men, there is now evidence that increasing waist circumference in middle age is associated with increased bowel cancer risk.” He added that this rose by nearly 60 per cent in males who had gained a minimum of 10cm in waist circumference over ten years.
Professor Mathers explained: “This increased cancer risk may be due to persistent inflammation in people with obesity.”
He went on to advise that people should improve their lifestyles, make better dietary choices and be more physically active, especially as they get older, in order to prevent obesity and thereby lowering their risk of bowel cancer. Bowel cancer refers to any cancer that begins in the bowel and is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Each year around 40,000 new cases are diagnosed, with one in every 20 people likely to develop bowel cancer during their lifetime, according to the NHS.
Almost nine out of ten people with bowel cancer are over the age of 60, meaning it is especially important for older people to report any symptoms to their doctor or GP. Common symptoms include a persistent change in bowel habits, going to the toilet more often, passing looser stools or finding blood in stools. Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating can also be symptoms of bowel cancer and may require further investigation.
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