NHS researchers have said that obesity will be responsible for 36,800 new cancer diagnoses per year by 2030.
This would be a 100 people per day being diagnosed with the disease due to their weight and a rise from around 22,800 a year in 2015.
NHS boss Simon Stevens said: “While cancer survival is at a record high, many people don’t yet realise that obesity causes cancer. On current trends by 2030 we could see 100 new patients every day being diagnosed with obesity-related cancer.
“Obesity is the new smoking and if we continue to pile on the pounds, we’re heading for thousands more avoidable cancer deaths each year.”
Mr Stevens made the comments at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.
By 2043, obesity is likely to overtake smoking as being the leading preventable cause of cancer in women.
Britain has the highest rates of obesity in Western Europe and rates of obesity are rising even faster than in the United States.
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Around 30% of UK adults are now obese, which is double the level in 1993.
Harvard University expert Dr Jennifer Ligibel is due to present evidence showing the impact of obesity on breast cancer, calling for more action to prevent deadly weight gain.
Dr Ligibel, from Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said: “It is very troubling. We are making major advances in cancer therapies and treatment, but the risk is that obesity could undercut all of this.
“We are also learning that with some cancers it seems the level of adiposity could make the disease more aggressive.
“This is a global problem - at the moment the US has higher levels of obesity but the UK is catching up.
“We really don’t yet know the full consequences that obesity could bring in terms of cancer.”