Cancer Research orders overweight people to slim down to reduce cancer deaths

Cancer Research orders overweight people to slim down to reduce cancer deaths

Cancer Research UK is causing controversy with how it is handling its attack on obesity, now that there are apparently twice as many obese people as smokers in the UK, and both are causes of cancer.

According to CRUK, while smoking is the cause of a number of illnesses, obesity has been linked to date to 13 different cancers, and is a greater cause than smoking in at least 4 cancers.

The problem stems from Cancer Research’s historical attitude that ‘Cancer is all your own fault’ – you smoke, drink too much, don’t do enough exercise, have a poor diet, etc. And Cancer Research argue that ‘Lifestyle Factors’ account for 50% of all cancers.

Unfortunately, their admonishing tone maybe appropriate where lack of exercise or smoking are concerned but according to experts, ‘wagging a finger’ at people who are overweight is unlikely to make them lose the pounds. They need help not a telling off.

This has prompted a group of 'Healthcare Professionals and Scientists' to send a petition of complaint to the CEO of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell, complaining about the Charity's 'Harmful and Misleading' advertising. The petition argues that "Implying that individuals are largely in control of and responsible for their body size (and therefore cancer) supports a culture of blame and plays into prejudices and negative stereotypes, which drive the social exclusionm marginalisation and inequality of an already stigmatised population. The evidence is clear that weight stigma actually discourages people from engaging in behaviours that are known to promote health and reduce cancer risk."

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and a founder of CANCERactive said, “The truth is that this strategy is the only one Cancer Research ever uses. Like some old fashioned Headmaster, Cancer Research has only one approach – it’s called the blame game. It lacks understanding and it lacks empathy.

Having spent 22 years in advertising, most at the top, I can tell CRUK that the content of the message is not as important as how you deliver it. If they genuinely want people to adopt healthier lifestyles why are they not funding healthy eating programmes in schools? Why are they not encouraging healthy eating in hospitals? And their insistence that sugar is not linked to cancer, and that people on chemotherapy need to keep their strength up by eating sticky doughnuts, cake and cheeseburgers sends people a completely wrong message. 

If CRUK want people to slim down to beat cancer, why do they send out such mixed messages? You can’t be part of the solution if you are actually part of the problem!”

Leaders of the petition argued that the Government Health Authorities had Public Health Initiatives in place to encourage people to engage in weight control initiatives based on scientific evidence, and Cancer Research UK's blame game totally conflicted with these. 

Furthermore, the experts also claimed that Cancer Research UK's tie up with 'Slimming World' was a clear 'conflict of interest'. The partnership has produced 13 million pounds  in revenue for CRUK over the last 5 years. However, Obesity experts said that there was no scientific evidence that programmes such as that of Slimming World were effective ways of achieving and maintaining weight loss and that Cancer Research were putting profit ahead of scientific evidence. 

Chris Woollams added, "It's the same with CRUK's misleading 'Safe Sun' campaign which encourages people to slap on sun cream every hour. They have a partnership with a sun cream manufacturer which yields funds for the charity Yet the Environmental Working Group in California have shown many sun screens to be a risk factor because of their xenoestrogen content."

Go to: Stay safe in the Sun with CANCERactive


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