Being active and staying a healthy weight could cut four in ten cases of womb cancer in UK

11 Sep 2013
Being active and staying a healthy weight could cut four in ten cases of womb cancer in UK

Four out of ten new cases of womb cancer could be prevented in the UK if women were more physically active and a healthier weight, analysis of the latest research from around the world has shown.

World Cancer Research Fund International’s Continuous Update Project (CUP) found strong evidence that about 3,700 cases could be prevented every year if women were active for 38 minutes a day and maintained a healthy body weight (between 18.5 and 25 BMI).

In the UK only 56 per cent of women comply with the World Health Organisation recommendation of being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Only 39 per cent are a healthy weight.

The research also revealed evidence that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of womb cancer but there is not yet enough information to recommend drinking coffee to protect against the disease. The evidence that coffee has any effect on the risk of developing other cancers is not consistent and the potential effects for other health conditions remain unclear.

Endometrial cancer – cancer of the womb lining – is the most common form of womb cancer and is the fourth most common of all cancers affecting women in the UK. It is the ninth most fatal but can usually be successfully treated if caught early enough.

Leading expert Dr Elisa Bandera, a CUP Panel member and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, said: “Endometrial cancer is one of the most common cancers among women but a significant proportion of cases could be prevented every year by maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.

“The CUP report for endometrial cancer follows reports on pancreatic, breast and bowel cancers in showing the importance of lifestyle factors in preventing cancer and, like previous reports, uses the most up-to-date research to form recommendations on how people can cut their risk.”

Fellow CUP panel member Professor Hilary Powers, of the University of Sheffield, added: “It is not just the individual who can make changes to reduce their risk of cancer. Governments and other organisations can do a lot to make a healthier lifestyle an easier option for us all.”

Researchers at Imperial College London collated and reviewed all the scientific research available on womb cancer, diet, physical activity and body weight in the first global review since 2007. An international panel of experts judged the evidence and scientists at WCRF estimated that about 44 per cent of UK cases could be prevented through physical activity and body weight.

Scientists believe there are several reasons for the link between body fat and cancer, such as fat cells releasing hormones that can increase the risk of some cancers. Regular physical activity can help to keep these hormone levels healthy as well as strengthening the immune system and maintaining a healthy digestive system.

World Cancer Research Fund Executive Director Karen Sadler said: “To reduce the risk of womb and other cancers, World Cancer Research Fund recommends being as lean as possible without becoming underweight and being active for at least 30 minutes every day.

“The evidence on coffee is very interesting and is a further indication of the potential link between coffee and the risk of cancer but a lot more work still needs to be done. We need to consider the possible effect on other cancers as well as the impact on other health conditions and we are now looking to conduct further research into this issue.”


Source: WCRF