NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre
Our Research: Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

Obesity-related cancers

Did you know that 1 in 20 cancers in the UK are linked to being overweight? How will our research empower people to protect themselves against cancer, in the context of a rising obesity epidemic?

Over the next 20 years the increase in obesity is expected to result in around 670,000 new cases of cancer.  By 2035, 72% of UK adults are predicted to be overweight or obese (up from 62% in 2014), with the majority being from low income households.

Through our research we are:

  • Identifying those individuals most at risk by better characterising observable features associated with obesity related cancer.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of different communication approaches to support weight gain prevention programmes, and how this can suport weight gain interventions in different populations.

The research in this programme will be supported by the Informatics & Data Sciences crossing-cutting theme.

Progress to date

  • Findings from a large UK cohort with new-onset type 2 diabetes (T2D), elevated BMI either prior to or at T2D diagnosis was associated with higher risk of obesity-related cancers in women, more in never-smokers, but not in men reinforcing the need for improved weight management in people with T2D
  • Collaboration with Southampton BRC within the  Family History Lifestyle Study, testing remotely delivered lifestyle programmes amongst women in high risk breast cancer clinic

Future work

  • Pilot a weight gain prevention programme to reduce breast cancer risk
  • Prevent obesity induced Endometrial Cancer
  • Determine when is the optimal time to intervene in a person’s life in terms of preventing weight gain/addressing weight loss
  • Refine the cancer prevention message for obesity related cancers to identify and target those specifically at risk due to ethnic, genetic, epigenetic or other characteristics
  • Deliver low cost interventions to support high risk populations to achieve lifestyle change for weight loss and the prevention of weight gain