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Cancer warning for high proportion of overweight people in Norfolk and Waveney

File photo of an overweight woman. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

File photo of an overweight woman. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

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Being overweight could overtake smoking as the biggest preventable cause of cancer, according to a new study.

File photo of an overweight man. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA WireFile photo of an overweight man. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

And figures from the NHS underline the scale of the risks for people in Norfolk where 63.2pc are overweight or obese.

The warning on weight comes from Cancer Research UK in a study that found nearly 40pc of all cancers could be avoided with lifestyle changes.

The biggest preventable cause of cancer is smoking. Nationally more people have been giving up the habit.

According to the latest figures, 13.5% of people classed themselves as smokers in 2016 in Breckland, with men more likely to smoke than women. Since 2012 the proportion of smokers has fallen from 18.6pc.

The highest proportion of smokers was in Norwich, where 21pc of people reported smoking.

This was matched in Waveney.

While in Broadland and North Norfolk just 8pc of the population smoked, followed by 12pc in South Norfolk, 15pc in

Smoking is responsible for 247 deaths in every 100,000 people over 35 in Norfolk. 15pc in King’s Lynn and 16pc in Great Yarmouth.

But Cancer Research UK warns that growing waistlines will pose serious new threat to health.

Chief executive Sir Harpal Kumar said: “Obesity is potentially the new smoking, if we’re not careful. My sense would be it’ll be some time in next couple of decades that we’ll see those two switch around.”

The study found that smoking remained the biggest preventable cause of cancer - responsible for around 55,000 cases nationally in 2015 /16.

Excess weight is the second biggest preventable cause with around 22,800 cases attributed to people being overweight or obese.

The research published in the British Journal of Cancer shows that obesity causes 13 different types of cancer, including bowel, breast, womb and kidney, and more than one in 20 cases could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight.

Obesity is already placing the NHS under pressure. Figures show that in Norfolk obesity was a factor in 7,349 hospital admission in 2015/16.

And there is particular concern over the increase in obesity in children. NHS statistics show that 32.1pc of children in Norfolk are considered to be obese by the end of primary school.

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