Our unhealthy lifestyles are killing us. Among women specifically, cancer rates are rising six times faster than they are in men, according to a new study by Cancer Research U.K.
The driving forces behind this discouraging trend are obesity rates and smoking. And while the study was based on the population in the U.K. — we’re not immune in the U.S.
Our lifestyle and health trends closely mirror those of the British, specifically when it comes to smoking and obesity, said to Electra Paskett, co-leader of the cancer control research program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
We haven’t seen the increased diagnosis among women here yet, but it may not be long before we do. More than two-thirds of Americans are currently considered overweight or obese. That trend does not appear to be reversing itself anytime soon.
Paskett, who was not involved in the study, told LifeZette, “One cancer I did not see mentioned was colorectal cancer — and this is a cancer that affects both men and women. And obesity is a risk factor.”
“We don’t take the alcohol risk seriously, either,” she added. “Alcohol is linked to several cancers including breast and colon cancer in women.”
The list of cancers we put ourselves at risk for if we are obese is long. They include breast, colon, uterine, kidney, head and neck, esophageal, pancreatic, prostate, thyroid, gallbladder, uterine and ovarian cancers. With some of these reproductive cancers, specifically, the thought is that excess fat affects sex hormones such as estrogen, which drive tumor growth.
Liver, lung, and mouth cancer rates are expected to soar as well.
“Don’t smoke, drink alcohol in moderation — if at all — and maintain a good weight,” said Paskett. “Exercise no matter what your weight. Watch sun exposure. Get appropriate cancer screening tests (colon, breast and pap), and get vaccinated for HPV if you are under the age of 27. Get vaccinated if your child is nine to 26 years old. These steps are our best protection against cancer.”