Health news

Obesity could become main avoidable cancer cause: Cancer Research UK

Obesity could overtake smoking as the chief avoidable cause of cancer-related deaths, the world's largest independent funder of cancer research said.

With smoking rates in decline and obesity on the rise, it could surpass smoking as the biggest killer, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK said as it published new research.

"Obesity is potentially the new smoking, if we are not careful," said Mr Harpal Kumar.

"My sense would be it will be some time in the next couple of decades that we will see those two switch around."

Following a major new study of 2015 cancer data, the charity found that 37.7 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in Britain each year could be prevented through lifestyle changes.

Smoking remains the biggest avoidable cause of cancer, a factor in 15.1 per cent of preventable cases - down from 19.4 per cent in 2011 - followed by obesity at 6.3 per cent - up from 5.5 per cent.

Next came overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and sunbeds and occupational exposure at 3.8 per cent each, infections (3.6 per cent), alcohol (3.3 per cent) and eating too little fibre (3.3 per cent).

The research published in the British Journal of Cancer shows that obesity causes 13 different types of cancer, including bowel, breast, womb and kidney. - AFP

Childhood ‘toxic stress’ may lead to development delays in next generation

Parents who endured "toxic stress" during childhood may be more likely to have children with developmental delays and have a harder time coping with their children's health issues, new research suggests.

Adverse childhood experiences, commonly called Aces, can include witnessing parents fight or go through a divorce, having a parent with a mental illness or substance abuse problem, or suffering from sexual, physical or emotional abuse.

Previous research has linked these experiences to what is known as toxic stress, or wear and tear on the body that leads to physical and mental health problems that often continue to the next generation.

"What we didn't know is how these risks are 'inherited', or specifically what is the chain of events from a parent experiencing adversity in childhood to their own children experiencing adversity early in development," Dr Sheri Madigan of the University of Calgary and Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute in Canada said.

A reason may be that mothers who experience more adversity in childhood have more health risks during pregnancy and, in turn, have babies with a greater risk of developmental problems, said Dr Madigan and colleagues in a report published in Pediatrics. - REUTERS