Researchers are launching a new study into the links between cancer and obesity thanks to a £23,000 donation.
The money from the charity CRANES - Cancer Research Aberdeen and North East Scotland - will allow the University of Aberdeen team to investigate this little understood association.
It is hoped their findings will result in the development of a nutritional and activity programme that could be available for cancer patients.
Professor Steve Heys, Leader of Cancer Medicine research at the University of Aberdeen, and consultant surgeon with NHS Grampian, said: “Obesity is a risk factor for developing many different types of cancer.
“Also if you have been treated for cancer, and you can avoid putting weight on and you take regular exercise, this seems to help in reducing the risk of the cancer coming back subsequently.
“We don’t really know why this happens although there are some thoughts that fatty tissue may produce hormones and molecules which stimulate cancers to grow.
“However, this is an area where more research is required to understand why this should happen.
“We all know that we shouldn’t put on weight and should exercise but the reality is that many people find this hard to fit into their lifestyle.
“Now thanks to support from CRANES, we hope to develop advice on nutrition and activity levels, as a part of an ongoing programme of research into several areas where there are links between obesity and cancer.”
Dr Geraldine McNeill, Head of Public Health Nutrition research at the University of Aberdeen, said: “Initially we will be looking at people who have been treated for breast and prostate cancers to find out what are appropriate ways of helping people who are overweight and who have also been treated for these cancers.
“We believe there are special conditions for people in this situation which means that the way we offer weight loss advice needs to take this into account.
“Weight loss programmes are often designed for young and generally fit people who do not have other health concerns.
“People who have been through cancer treatment may have physical problems such as limitations on arm movement or reluctance to wear a swim suit after breast surgery.
“We hope that weight loss may be something that could help them on their path to recovery from their illness by helping them take control of, and improve, their health.
“We also hope that the shared experience of cancer treatment could increase the benefits of group classes for these men and women.
“Thanks to the CRANES money we will employ an experienced dietitian who will be talking to people who have completed their treatment about what would be helpful for them.
“She will also obtain the views of those who have contact with the patients during their treatment, such as specialist breast care nurses. From this information she will be able to design a programme of different activities focusing on diet and exercise tailored to the needs of this group.
“If we can demonstrate that the programme helps to achieve weight loss over the longer term, we would like to extend the work to people treated for other cancers, and also to set up a larger trial to see whether weight loss has an additional benefit in prevention of recurrence.”
Gladys Sangster, Chairman of CRANES, added: “CRANES is delighted to be able to support this extremely worthy and appropriate research.”