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Waist size 'linked to cancer risk'

Carrying excess fat around the waist increases the risk of bowel cancer even if the rest of the body is slim, research has suggested.

A report by scientists at Imperial College London and the University of Leeds found the risk of bowel cancer increased by 3% with every extra inch on the waist.

They said a large waist circumference is a predictor of bowel cancer regardless of overall body mass index (BMI).

The research, a a review of seven existing papers suggesting that tummy fat is a predictor for bowel cancer, will be presented at an international cancer conference on Monday.

It provides the strongest evidence yet published for a link.

Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser for the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which funded the study, said: "This latest study adds to the already strong evidence that carrying excess body fat increases your risk of cancer."

The results of the review will be presented at WCRF's conference in London.

Dr Teresa Norat, lead researcher on the study, said: "This study indicates that people should pay attention to abdominal fatness even if they are in the normal range of weight, and it confirms that being overweight increases the risk of this type of cancer.

"This study gives us a better picture of how body fat affects the risk of bowel cancer. More research is needed to understand how abdominal fatness can be prevented in both normal and overweight individuals."

Around 38,500 cases of bowel cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK.

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