Diabetes, obesity behind 800,000 cases of cancer worldwide

New research has revealed a direct link between diabetes, obesity and cancer and women face the greatest risk. (Shutterstock)
Updated 28 November 2017
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Diabetes, obesity behind 800,000 cases of cancer worldwide

PARIS: Nearly six percent of new cancers diagnosed worldwide in 2012 — some 800,000 cases — were caused by diabetes and excess weight, according to a study published Tuesday.
Among the 12 types of cancer examined, the proportion of cases chalked up to these factors was as high as a third, researchers reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, a leading medical journal.
Cancers stemming from diabetes and obesity combined was almost twice as common among women than men, they found.
And of the two cancer-causing agents, being overweight or obese — above 25 on the body-mass index, or BMI — was responsible for twice as many cancers as diabetes.
The conditions, in reality, are often found together, as obesity is itself a leading risk factor for diabetes.
“While obesity has been associated with cancer for some time, the link between diabetes and cancer has only been established quite recently,” said lead author Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard, a clinical research fellow at Imperial College London’s Faculty of Medicine.
“Our study shows that diabetes — either on its own or combined with being overweight — is responsible for hundreds of thousands of cancer cases each year across the world.”
A surge in both conditions over the last four decades has made the tally significantly worse, the study showed.
The global increase in diabetes between 1980 and 2002 accounted for a quarter of the 800,000 cases, while the obesity epidemic over the same period resulted in an additional 30 percent of cases.
On current trends, the share of cancers attributable to the two conditions will increase by 30 percent for women and 20 percent for men in less than 20 years, the researchers warned.
“In the past, smoking was by far the major risk factor for cancer, but now health care professionals should also be aware that patients who have diabetes or are overweight also have an increased risk,” Pearson-Stuttard said.
For men, obesity and diabetes accounted for more than 40 percent of liver cancers, while for women they were responsible for a third of uterine cancers, and nearly as many cases of breast cancer.
The threshold for obesity is a BMI — one’s weight in kilos divided by one’s height (in centimeters) squared — of 30.
To conduct the study, researchers gathered data on cases of 12 types of cancer from 175 countries in 2012, and matched it with data on weight and diabetes.
People with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered to be overweight.


Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

Updated 13 June 2018
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Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

  • A team of volunteers collect unwanted food from lavish Ramadan buffets
  • Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago

AMMAN: At the end of a lavish Ramadan buffet in the banquet hall of one of Amman’s five-star hotels, a young Jordanian charity worker rushes to gather up left-over food that his team of volunteers will package and redistribute to needy families.
Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago, angered by the amount of food thrown away by hotels during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally a period when consumption levels double across the region.
“What we do is eliminate this waste, we salvage the food and provide it to people who are in desperate need of it,” said Sharif, a 33-year-old teacher.
His team of volunteers now works all year round to collect unwanted food from large wedding parties, bakeries and restaurants.
This year the initiative has focused on the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, one of the depressed areas in a country that has seen some of the biggest protests in years this month over steep price hikes, which are backed by the International Monetary Fund.
Critics say the price hikes are to blame for rising poverty in Jordan.
Family Kitchen’s initiative this year provides ‘iftar’ meals — eaten by Muslims after sunset during the holy month of Ramadan — to 500 families in the impoverished refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman.
A third of the camp’s 120,000 residents have an income below the national poverty line and around 17 percent are unemployed, the UN refugee body says.
“Our families are very poor, there is a lot of poverty in the community, so they need this support, they need these meals in order to ensure that they have food the next day,” said Kifah Khamis, who runs a charity in the sprawling camp.
One camp resident, Um Thair, a mother of four, said she could not have coped without the meals delivered to her family.
“I was able to save money. During Ramadan I didn’t have to buy a lot of food or shop a lot, we got most of our meals from the charity, we would come everyday and get our iftar meal,” she said.