In our latest Community Column, health writer Lucy Dunn reacts to recent reports suggesting that obesity is a major contributor to cancer rates in Scotland.

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Over the past month, emerging evidence has revealed that obesity is more likely to predispose to certain types of cancers (e.g. bowel, liver, kidney and ovarian) than smoking.

This is perhaps an unsurprising, yet nonetheless interesting, discovery, especially as 65 per cent of us in Scotland are overweight, including approximately 30 per cent who are obese, according to these Scottish Government figures.

What is obesity? The NHS states that if your BMI is over 30, you are ‘obese’. Their website offers a calculator for this, where you can enter your height and weight (

A handy guidance tool translates the kilograms into ‘real life’ terms, though the results may mean less if you have a high muscle mass or if you are younger than 18.

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For some it may yield surprising results: for a women of five feet six inches tall, obesity is reached at a mere 13.5 stone – hardly the bariatric figure many associate with ‘obesity’.

Are certain people more at risk of becoming obese than others? Research suggests that certain genes may regulate hunger and appetite signals, contributing to the weight gain of a fraction of people (

The learning of unhealthy habits doesn’t help: for example, constant snacking or emotional eating.

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On top of the visible changes, chronic inflammation can develop within the expanding fat tissue (, linking obesity with inflammatory illness, increasing the risk of lung and gut diseases, and ultimately cancer.

Obesity brings with it a whole host of demons. Regardless of its origins, there are many ways it can be reduced or prevented, no matter what stage you are at.

Motivating yourself to source the root of the problem and altering your lifestyle accordingly means you can give yourself the power to make both immediate changes and immense health benefits down the line – and you may even deter cancer.

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