Bigger belly could make womb cancer more likely

22 March 2017 | News, Science and research

Lucy is World Cancer Research Fund's Press and Communications Officer. She has a background in biomedical science and previously worked as a clinical trials data manager at the Institute of Cancer Research.

Women with more belly fat could have an increased risk of womb cancer, a study part-funded by World Cancer Research Fund has found.

Scientists in the study divided waist measurement by hip measurement to find out how much fat was situated around the subjects’ waists. This calculation gives a ‘waist-to-hip ratio’ – a figure above 0.85 for women or 0.90 for men is a sign of obesity.

According to the results, the risk of womb cancer increases by 21 per cent for each 0.1 unit increase in waist-to-hip ratio.

Director of Research Funding Dr Giota Mitrou said: “We already knew that extra weight around the waist increases the risk of a range of health conditions, but this study is helping us shine a light on how this type of body fat could affect cancer risk in particular.

“It’s incredibly important that people are aware of the dangers of excess body fat, particularly around their waist.”

Evidence from World Cancer Research Fund has shown that being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing 11 types of cancer.

However, scientists believe that the waist area is the most dangerous place to have excess body fat – as well as cancer, this type of obesity (known as ‘central obesity’) has been linked to other conditions, including type-2 diabetes.

The results of the study also showed associations between waist-to-hip ratio and colon and pancreatic cancer, although these associations were weaker.

Lucy Eccles | 22 March 2017