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Yorkshire’s ‘BIG’ issue

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WORRYING TREND: Dr Hasantha Jayasinghe says he is worried about the latest figures showing a lack of awareness about cancer

WORRYING TREND: Dr Hasantha Jayasinghe says he is worried about the latest figures showing a lack of awareness about cancer

Preventable cancers are linked to Leeds’ rising obesity rate

A Leeds GP is warning the public that more awareness has to be raised about the different causes of cancer following the publication of new figures this week highlighting that three out of four people are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer.

Dr Hasantha Jayasinghe, of Chapeltown Family Surgery, said: “Fat isn’t just a lump of flesh or inactive tissue, it actually produces hormones and chemicals and they leak out. Those hormones increase your risk of cancers.

“The rate of obesity is rising. In West Yorkshire, there’s around 1.3 million people who are overweight and especially in Chapeltown, there’s a definite increase compared to the rest of Leeds.”

Almost three out of four - 73 per cent - of people in the North are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to new figures released by Cancer Research UK this month.

A survey of people in the region found that, as well as general ignorance about obesity and cancer, around three-quarters of those asked didn’t know obesity was linked specifically to ovarian cancer.

Two thirds didn’t know there was a link with breast cancer and more than half didn’t know pancreatic cancer was linked to obesity.

Dr Jayasinghe added: “Obesity is a big problem. People also don’t realise that 42 per cent of cancers are preventable so if people are worried about getting cancer the simplest advice is to try and stay slim and not to smoke.  Those are the main things. The point is to make radical changes to try and address the prevention strategy.  

“People need to exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet. It takes a 60 minute jog to run off the calories from a sandwich. It really is true that a minute on the lips is a lifetime on the hips.”

Being overweight or obese is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to an estimated 18,100 cancer cases each year in the UK.

It is also associated with at least 10 types of cancers, including breast, bowel, womb and oesophageal. 

Alison Barbuti, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North, said: “Around a quarter of all adults in the region are estimated to be obese, and this has a real impact on their risk of developing cancer.

“Eating a healthy balanced diet and becoming more active can help people to keep a healthy weight. And encouraging children and teenagers to do the same can help them keep to a healthy weight later on in life.” 

Cancer Research UK is calling on people across the North West to email their MP to help tackle junk food marketing to children.