Cancer warning for the overweight in Sandwell and West Birmingham

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People who are overweight in Sandwell and Birmingham are being urged to shed the pounds to reduce their risk of getting cancer. NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group  has issued the plea as new research shows that obesity now causes more cases of four common cancers in the UK than smoking.

The CCG is backing Cancer Research UK’s nationwide campaign launched this month to increase awareness of the link between obesity and cancer. Obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK- more than 1 in 20 cancer cases are caused by excess weight*

Evidence from Cancer Research UK shows that bowel, kidney, ovarian and liver cancers are more likely to have been caused by being overweight than by smoking tobacco. Excess weight causes around 1,900 more cases of bowel cancer than smoking in the UK each year. The same worrying pattern is true of cancer in the kidneys (1,400 more cases caused by excess weight than by smoking each year in the UK), ovaries (460) and liver (180)*

Extra body fat sends out signals that can tell cells to divide more often and, similar to smoking, can cause damage that builds up over time and raises the risk of cancer.

In 2017, the proportion of adults who were obese nationally was 29%, higher than in recent years. The West Midlands featured in the top three areas in England for the highest levels of adults who are overweight or obese. Latest figures show that there were 145 obesity-related hospital admissions in Sandwell and West Birmingham+.
Professor Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said:

“We are urging people in Sandwell and West Birmingham who are overweight or obese to take action and reduce their risk of cancer. As smoking rates have fallen across the country, obesity levels continue to rise putting more people in danger of developing cancer.

“The risk is higher the more weight a person gains and the longer they are overweight for, but the good news is small changes that are kept up over time can make a real difference

“We would encourage anyone who is overweight or obese to contact their GP practice for important advice about losing weight safely by eating a healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity.

“GP practices can also let patients know about other useful services. These include local weight loss groups and exercise on prescription, where the patient is referred to a local active health team for a number of sessions under the supervision of a qualified trainer.”

For more information about tackling obesity visit
Further details on Cancer Research UK’s campaign are available at