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Diabetes, obesity behind 8,00,000 cancer cases worldwide

Nearly six per cent of new cancers diagnosed worldwide in 2012 — some 8,00,000 cases — were caused by diabetes and excess weight, according to a study.

Among the 12 types of cancer examined, the percentage of cases chalked up to these factors was as high as a third, researchers reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Cancers stemming from diabetes and obesity combined was almost twice as common among women than men, they found.And of the two cancer-causing agents, being overweight or obese — above 25 on the body-mass index, or BMI — was responsible for twice as many cancers as diabetes.

The conditions, in reality, are often found together, as obesity is itself a leading risk factor for diabetes.

“While obesity has been associated with cancer for some time, the link between diabetes and cancer has only been established quite recently,” said lead author Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard, a clinical research fellow at Imperial College London’s Faculty of Medicine.

“In the past, smoking was by far the major risk factor for cancer, but now healthcare professionals should also be aware that patients who have diabetes or are overweight also have an increased risk,” Pearson-Stuttard, said.

For men, obesity and diabetes accounted for a more than 40 per cent of liver cancers, while for women they were responsible for a third of uterine cancers, and nearly as many cases of breast cancer.

The threshold for obesity is a BMI — one’s weight in kilos divided by one’s height (in centimetres) squared — of 30.Persons with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered to be overweight.

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