Being fat could become the leading cause of cancer in women in Western countries in the coming years, say European researchers. Being overweight or obese accounts for up to 8% of cancers in Europe. That figure is poised to increase substantially as the obesity epidemic continues, and as major causes of cancer, such as smoking, drop. Colorectal cancer, breast cancer in menopausal women, and endometrial cancer accounted for 65% of all cancers linked to being fat.
"Obesity is catching up at a rate that makes it possible it could become the biggest attributable cause of cancer in women within the next decade," a researcher says. Between 2002 and 2008, he says, the number of such cases almost doubled to 124,000. Scientists aren't sure why being fat boosts your cancer risk but suspect hormones play a role. As people become fatter, they produce more hormones such as estrogen that help tumors grow. (Read more Europe stories.)