Cancer Research UK launches new campaign as obesity poses a bigger health risk than smoking

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New figures from Cancer Research UK show that people who are obese in the North West now outnumber smokers, as the charity urges government action to tackle obesity.

New figures from Cancer Research UK show that people who are obese in the North West now outnumber smokers, as the charity urges government action to tackle obesity.

Cancer Research UK's obesity campaign poster

Cancer Research UK's obesity campaign poster

While smoking is still the nation’s biggest preventable cause of cancer, Cancer Research UK’s analysis also reveals that being overweight or obese trumps smoking as the leading cause of four types of cancer – bowel, kidney, ovarian and liver.

In Lancashire, almost seven in ten adults are overweight or obese.

The news comes as Cancer Research UK launches a new campaign across the North West designed to increase awareness of the link between obesity and cancer.

Extra body fat sends out signals that can tell cells to divide more often and, similar to smoking, can cause damage that builds up over time and raises the risk of cancer.

Cancer Research UK's obesity campaign poster

Cancer Research UK's obesity campaign poster

Posters with images inspired by old fashioned cigarette packs will be on display at prominent sites across Preston including Garstang Road, Deepdale Road, Blackpool Road and Tulketh Brow.

The campaign compares smoking and obesity to show how policy change can help people from healthier habits, not to compare tobacco with food.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “As smoking rates fall and obesity rates rise, we can clearly see the impact on a national health crisis when the government puts policies in place – and when it puts its head in the sand.

“We’ve hit a devastating record high for childhood obesity, and now we need urgent government intervention to end the epidemic.

“Scientists have so far identified that obesity causes 13 types of cancer but the mechanisms aren’t fully understood. So further research is needed to find out more about the ways extra body fat can lead to cancer.”

The charity wants the government to act on its ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030 and introduce a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts on TV and online, alongside other measures such as restricting promotional offers on unhealthy food and drinks.

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert, said: “The world we live in doesn’t make it easy to be healthy and we need government action to fix that, but people can also make changes themselves; small things like swapping junk food for healthier options and keeping active can all add up to help reduce cancer risk.”