Bowel & Cancer Research learns today that obesity is now officially more dangerous than smoking in terms of causing bowel cancer.

Every year more than 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer. It has long been recognised that bowel cancer in particular is related to lifestyle, with as many as half of these cases being linked to poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise and drinking too much alcohol.

Cancer Research UK's figures today show that 1,900 more cases of bowel cancer are linked to obesity than smoking. Obesity is ranking highly for a number of other cancers too, but bowel cancer stands out in terms of numbers.

There has been a big reduction in the overall smoking rate, down 5% from 2011 to 14.7%. However, across the UK, 26% of adults were classed as obese, with 40% of men and 30% of women being overweight.

And there's another issue. Bowel cancer is very treatable if caught early because surgery is very effective. However, carrying excess weight brings its own problems in terms of surgery in both the procedure itself and recovery.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS said

This study is further proof that obesity is the new smoking, and the NHS can't win the battle of the bulge on its own.

How do we tackle obesity and lower the risk of bowel cancer?

Bowel & Cancer Research is uniquely well placed to support research efforts in the area.

We understand the difficulties inherent in following weight loss regimes when overweight and their often poor success rates because fundamental changes in the body's physiology as we become overweight override normal processes.

That's why Bowel & Cancer Research is investing in studies which examine the complex relationship between hormone signalling in the gut and appetite suppression. Several important studies in the area have been made possible through the human tissue laboratory at the National Bowel Research Centre, which was funded by the charity in 2012.

From initial studies in tissue our funding has moved on to a first in human trial of a new appetite suppressant capsule, initial results from which we expect in summer 2019.