Around half of people are unaware that being overweight or obese can cause cancer, a poll has shown.

Researchers have estimated that excess weight causes around 4% of all cancers. Being overweight or obese is linked convincingly to cancer of the oesophagus, bowel, pancreas, womb lining, kidney, and breast in post-menopausal women.

The poll, of 2,178 UK adults, was carried out for the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

It found that 48% of people were unaware of the link between excess body fat and cancer risk. The survey also found that only 38% of people knew that drinking alcohol and not taking exercise increased their risk of the disease.

A total of 43% were unaware that having a poor diet is linked to cancer.

Despite media coverage of the link between processed meat and cancer, only 30% of people said they were aware it increased the risk.

The WCRF recommends people avoid eating processed meats due to convincing evidence that it is a cause of bowel cancer.

A study published in November by the charity Cancer Research UK estimated that around 6,000 middle-aged or older women in the UK develop cancer each year because they are obese or overweight.

Lucie Galice, general manager of the WCRF, said maintaining a healthy weight was the single most important thing people could do to protect themselves from cancer after stopping smoking.

She added: “The evidence on this is really clear and in fact scientists estimate that about a third of cancer could be prevented just by doing these things.”

For many however, maintaining a healthy weight is very difficult. Stay tuned to the next post to find out how I have helped many people to lose weight…