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  • Madeleine Cowey

Obesity = Cancer?!?!

I guess the first thing I must say is no, of course obesity does not equal cancer. I have wanted to address this (controversial - you have been warned) issue for a while - it is (was - I'm late on the mark, I've been busy ok?) Cancer Research's new campaign to spread awareness of the second (after smoking) biggest preventable cause of cancer, which is obesity. It has been shown to be linked to 13 different types of cancer.

The campaign received a lot of backlash, being criticised as 'fat shaming' by some angry internet people. I mean if anything I am being more fat shaming now with that damn funny cat GIF. (I'm sorry, hope you can see the humour).

The advert is not fat shaming. It doesn't mention size, appearance, or anything like that, it is not criticising people for looking a certain way or being a certain way. If we look at the definition of 'fat shaming' we know this to be true:

fat shaming


mass noun

The action or practice of humiliating someone judged to be fat or overweight by making mocking or critical comments about their size.

In no way is the charity humiliating, or mocking. It is pretty much just health advice, and we all already know that being overweight isn't good for our health.

All the charity wants to do is raise awareness, and lay out as clearly as they can what can cause cancer, because that is the one of most effective ways we have at the moment of reducing cases of cancer. Everyone knows that smoking can cause cancer - why shouldn't the second biggest cause be equally as known?

I understand that weight is a touchy subject for almost everyone, so I can see people being upset by this. However, the point is not that if someone is obese they will get cancer. Just as someone who smokes won't necessarily be effected by cancer - it just increases your chances. I've seen so many comments like: "SKINNY PEOPLE GET CANCER TOO!" - Uh, hello? Yes I am one of those healthy slim people that got cancer. What kind of a statement is this? Most cancers don't have a cause that you can help. Mine certainly isn't caused by anything. Most cancers cannot be prevented. Yet some can by keeping within a healthy weight. No matter how much of a touchy subject weight may be we shouldn't just hide away from the truth and ignore it. If more people were aware, then more people can go about making a change and we can start reducing cases of cancer.

Anyone and everyone is at risk of cancer - smokers, non-smokers, overweight people and 'skinny' people, athletes and couch-potatoes. We are all at risk. That doesn't mean we shouldn't still try to reduce some of the risk-factors of cancer. Every little helps. I think it was brave of Cancer Research to release such a bold advertisement, and I'm so sorry if you have been offended. If you have, please know that no matter your size or appearance you are way way more than that, and if you are now worried that you may get cancer, don't worry, that won't help, just take small steps to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Just because someone is obese doesn't mean they will definitely get cancer. (Have I said that enough times??)

Thank you and goodbye

M x

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