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Cancer in women rising six times faster than in men

Some types of cancer only affect women and are linked to being obese. Credit: AP

Cancer in women is rising six times faster than in men, new figures show.

Data published by Cancer Research UK shows unhealthy lifestyles are contributing to a rise in cancer cases in both men and women.

But the charity predicts that over the next 20 years, cancer rates will increase more rapidly in women than in men.

Some types of cancer only affect women and are linked to obesity. These include womb cancer, ovarian cancer and breast cancer (after the menopause). Cervical and oral cancers are also on the rise among women.

Rates will rise by around 0.5% for men and 3% for women, meaning an estimated 4.5 million women and 4.8 million men will be diagnosed with cancer by 2035.

Although smoking rates are now falling across the UK, in the past women only took up smoking in large numbers after the habit was already popular among men. As a result the impact of smoking on women and their risk of lung cancer is only being seen now.

Alcohol is also having an effect on women's cancer rates, but not to the same degree as smoking and obesity, Cancer Research UK said.

Breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer are the most common cancers, accounting for more than half (53%) of new cases of cancer each year in the UK.

Sarah Toule, head of health information at World Cancer Research Fund, said: "Cancer is a devastating disease and it is concerning that rates are predicted to rise so sharply in women, especially as so many cancer cases could be prevented.

"In fact, our evidence shows that around a third of the most common cancer cases could be prevented if people were a healthy weight, had a healthier diet and were more active.

"For breast cancer, this would mean preventing around two in five cases."