Obesity has caused almost 5,000 cases of bowel cancer over the last decade in Scotland, according to new figures from a leading cancer charity.
Cancer Research UK called for action to promote healthier lifestyles with restrictions on offers for unhealthy food.
Every year, around 3,800 patients are diagnosed with bowel cancer and around 1,600 people die from the disease each year.
More than a tenth of those cases in Scotland are linked to carrying excess weight.
Scientists have found high levels of insulin in the body causes cells to divide more quickly, raising the likelihood of the cells changing and leading to cancer.
While not all bowel cancer cases are preventable, simple things like choosing sugar-free drinks, watching portion sizes and trying to do 10,000 steps a day can help maintain a healthy weight.
Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s cancer prevention expert, based at the University of Stirling, said: “It is a huge worry to see so many bowel cancer cases being caused by excess weight, and to see that proportion rising as more of the population becomes overweight or obese.
“Being overweight or obese is linked to 13 types of cancer, including bowel cancer which is the third most common form of the disease in Scotland. It is also now more common for adults in Scotland to be overweight or obese than a healthy weight.
“In the face of this, the Scottish Government has a responsibility to take action and introduce an obesity strategy which will help everyone to make healthy choices.
“Shoppers are bombarded with multi-buy offers every time they set foot in a supermarket. Unfortunately, instead of encouraging us to fill our trolleys with food that’s good for us, these ‘deals’
persuade us to stock up on foods that pile on the pounds.
“Cancer Research UK believes restricting these multi-buy offers on unhealthy foods and drinks would go a long way to improving the health of the nation.
Professor Bauld will present a paper on the solution to Scotland’s obesity epidemic to the Board of Food Standards Scotland in Aberdeen tomorrow.