Cancer: ‘Excess weight almost doubles a woman’s risk’ warns new study – symptoms to spot

Womb cancer charity founder outlines the main symptoms

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Womb cancer is cancer that affects the womb. The womb (uterus) is where a baby grows during pregnancy. It is the fourth most common cancer found in women with a new study finding the biggest risk factor to be aware of.

Excess weight almost doubles a woman’s risk of developing womb cancer, new research suggests.

The Cancer Research UK-funded study found that for every five extra body mass index (BMI) units – the equivalent of a 5ft 5in tall adult woman being two stones heavier – the risk increased by 88 percent.

Researchers analysed genetic samples from some 120,000 women from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Sweden, the UK and the US, of which around 13,000 had endometrial cancer.

The paper’s lead author, Emma Hazelwood, said: “This study is an interesting first step into how genetic analyses could be used to uncover exactly how obesity causes cancer.

“It also looks at what can be done to tackle it.

“Links between obesity and womb cancer are well-known but this is one of the largest studies which has looked into exactly why that is on a molecular level.”

According to Cancer Research UK, the most common symptom of womb cancer is abnormal bleeding from the vagina.

“This is especially in women who have stopped having periods (post-menopausal women),” added the health charity.”

Abnormal vaginal bleeding can be:

  • Bleeding after the menopause
  • Bleeding that is unusually heavy or happens between periods
  • A vaginal discharge that might be from pink and watery to dark and foul smelling.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor.

Different cancers have different risk factors.

Having a risk factor does not necessarily mean that you will develop cancer.

Also, not having any risk factors does not mean that you definitely won’t get cancer.

Other factors increasing a woman’s risk include:

  • Age
  • Higher levels of oestrogen
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Tamoxifen
  • Diabetes
  • Thickened womb lining
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Menstrual history
  • Family history.

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